Happy Independence Day! The 4th is an incredible time for us to celebrate the freedom of our country, the spirit of those who fought for our right to self-govern, or for us to sit in an airport waiting on a thunderstorm to pass so we can fly home.
If you've not done it yet, take time to check out the NPR reading of the Declaration of Independence. It's one of the best things they do all year. And it's a healthy reminder as citizens to not forget where we came from, and why Revolution was the only recourse against Britain.
So many phrases and sentences leap from the page when we read the Declaration. But one is worth mentioning--manly firmness. In the Declaration, it's used to describe the attitude of the colonists towards King George's dissolution of representative bodies for opposing his policies of "invasions on the rights of the people."
Why this phrase?
At the core, we as leaders have lost much of our resolve. Rather than lead on principle, virtue, and a steadiness of calling and conviction, we see many who lead with one finger testing the wind. Leaders who test the wind are always trying to make sure they're not going against the current, not ruffling feathers, not decisively leading change. Leaders who fail to exercise "manly firmness" are the ones who fail to effectively lead.
Manly firmness in ministry leadership looks like:
Conviction - More than just knowing something to be right, true, and good, manly firmness is driven by conviction, where the right/true/good punctures our hearts. Conviction is where every fiber of our soul is committed to what we believe God has called and entrusted us to.
Courage - Leadership isn't always easy or popular. It takes courage. You'll make decisions that are initially unpopular. You'll change things that need to be changed because they're in the way of what God has placed on your heart as the vision. And it takes courage to do that. To use the Declaration as an example, there is much written about the fate of the original signers. It took courage to put their names on the parchment, knowing that it would likely cost them their "lives, fortune, and sacred honor."
Clarity - It was unambiguous what the Declaration was doing, and what they were accusing King George of. There was no fog in the vision communicated. Leaders who exercise "manly firmness" must also lead with that clarity. There should be no doubt in communicating what you feel the vision is, how to get there, and what will be required. Wherever there is clarity, there is process. Wherever there is fog, there is chaos.
Character - This week another story broke of a ministry leader forced out because of immorality. The scope of our leadership is directly related to our character. If we are not who we claim to be, or who we say we are, then we have no credibility to lead the people God loves and has brought together.
Competency - Leaders cannot simply expect people to follow based on the office they hold. They must do something with their leadership. Are we actively serving those whom God has gifted us? Are we exercising our gifting to its best for the glory of God and the health of the church? Or are we just coasting because it's an inside job without a lot of heavy lifting? If we want to exercise manly firmness, we must be active in our leadership.
What would you add to the list?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.