Developing Christ-Centered Leaders
Take a look around. Whether you’re an executive leader at a Fortune 500 company, an unpaid volunteer in the community or the coach of your child’s soccer team, it’s evident that competent, Christ-centered leaders are needed more than ever.
It would be easy to assume that in the Christian nonprofit sector, this is a given. Surely, everyone working for a ministry or other faith-based organizations is sufficiently encouraged and supported in achieving their full, God-given potential, right? Surely, they feel valued and appreciated for what they bring to the organization. Well, not necessarily.
Supporting Personal and Professional Growth for Leaders
Mission-driven, faith-forward organizations aspiring to foster strong team member satisfaction and a high retention rate must attend to the personal growth and professional development of their team members.
Being intentional about this priority will help your employees acquire additional skills for their current job while expanding their talents to take on new roles within the company later. To put it quite simply, it’s a win-win, and it’s important in both the Christian and secular marketplace.
We spend more hours working than any other activity. Christian leaders who are committed to creating a flourishing workplace for the people they influence will provide growth and accountability opportunities for their employees. This ultimately honors the Lord.
Five Ways to Develop Christ-Centered Leaders
Consider these five ways to cultivate a workplace that encourages the ongoing development of its most important asset – its people.
Support professional development and grow retention.
A 2022 survey conducted by The Conference Board revealed that 58% of employees say professional development contributes to their job satisfaction, a major factor in retention. The bottom line is that when an organization demonstrates a commitment to its people, it becomes attractive to prospective employees and existing ones hoping to grow in their chosen field. The benefit to the employer is a staff’s commitment in return. Of course, a great benefits package doesn’t hurt either. At the end of the day, when you invest in your people, they feel seen, valued and more inclined to stay with you.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate loyalty to your team is to encourage and support their participation in professional development courses.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate loyalty to your team is to encourage and support their participation in professional development courses. There’s no shortage of cutting-edge micro credentials out there for those who wish to quickly learn new skills and advance in their respective careers. For those in the Christian nonprofit space, there are paths like the Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader (CCNL) program, designed to promote biblical principles and professional standards within organizations that operate with a biblical worldview.
At the end of the day, it’s about being a good steward of the people God has placed in your care as an employer. Doing so honors him.
Lead with integrity.
Remember that your team is watching you. One of the best things leaders can do to help their employees grow personally is to lead by example and operate with integrity. When leaders are honest and fair, they set the stage for a workplace culture that seeks to honor God in both word and deed.
Integrity is hard to come by these days. Between pride of position and the tough decisions that have to be made, some leaders are tempted to give in to telling a white lie here and there. They withhold information or paint facts in an alternate light to manipulate opinion. However, when Christ-centered leaders oppose this business world norm and choose to honor God, they earn the respect of their employees. This opens the door for the Lord’s favor.
Implement feedback and offer guidance.
Successful employee development requires affirming and corrective feedback. The purpose of this feedback is teaching, sharing wisdom and empowering others. Most organizations, both faith-based and otherwise, have a performance review system of some kind in place. Prayerfully enter these meetings. Ask the Lord to guide the conversation according to his will.
Sharing feedback should always be constructive and life giving.
Sharing feedback should always be constructive and life giving. Sound wisdom gives employees opportunities to become problem-solvers and leaders who are encouraged in their work.
Incentivize growth and celebrate impact.
Organizations which reflect success in both mission and employee satisfaction tend to promote largely from within. This offers teams abundant opportunities to expand their skills and catch a vision for long-term growth within their workplace.
Advance qualified team members at the appropriate time in their development. This will go a long way in encouraging them to continuously set and achieve goals. Celebrate success, growth and "big wins.” Such celebration can make all the difference in the life of the person putting in the effort. It also serves as a refreshing way to unify teammates, boost morale and foster motivation.
Adopt an attitude of servant leadership.
Servanthood isn’t natural for most people. In fact, it’s the opposite of what the world tells us to do to be successful. Yet, the most synergetic teams tend to have high percentages of members who are willing to do unfavorable tasks. Leading by example in this way turns the internal business structure on its head. This surprises and blesses those who are served, that they might go on to serve and bless others in similar capacities.
Jesus led perfectly in this way. Matthew 20:28 says this: “...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Who better to mimic than Jesus? He was perfect in every way. Jesus put others above himself in service and love, remaining continually interruptible and giving his life for the world. He taught his followers how to love tangibly and oppose what the world deems important.
Investing in Leaders Bears Fruit
When we invest in our team members, the fruit of the labor speaks for itself. The impact of someone else’s diligence goes beyond the bottom line or the strategic plan. It has the potential to inspire, honor God and bless others.
As followers of Jesus, every part of our lives is under his direction. Our growth as his disciples doesn’t end when we begin our workday – whether we work in the Christian nonprofit space or secular corporate America. While we may be tempted to separate our spiritual and personal growth from our professional development, that leaves our best advocate and support out of the equation as we strive to achieve our God-given potential.
Ed Fry, president of FaithSearch Partners, Inc., has assisted faith-based organization boards and executive teams in securing mission-minded leaders for more than 33 years. Before founding the firm in 2007, he served in senior-level roles at two of the largest international executive search firms. This deep experience – along with the prompting of the Holy Spirit – led him to create FaithSearch to better serve the complete spectrum of the Christian organizational and ministry world. Based in Dallas, the firm has nine locations throughout the U.S. He serves on the boards of a number of regional and national ministries.
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