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Character and Competence in Leaders

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June 24, 2016

Character and Competence in Leaders

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Psalm 78:72

Authentic leadership is a mixture of character and competence. You cannot have one without the other and provide healthy leadership. Competence without character is like a magnificent ivory-white ship’s sail that lies collapsed without wind. Character without competence is like a strong gust of wind without a billowy sail to capture its energy. Both are required for the level of leadership that God expects. Character is the linchpin of leadership. It is truly the measure of a man.

Your character is your union card: It earns you the right to participate in leadership. Your depth of character determines your breadth of leadership. Character is forged on the anvil of life’s experience. When your obedience to God intersects with life, character is developed. It is through a relationship with Christ and a relationship with people that you understand and develop character. God’s Word defines character, and living life is your opportunity to apply character. You can choose to be a character, or you can seek to live a life of character.

God’s will is the latter. People want leaders that are dependable, someone they can trust. They want leaders that are available to listen and understand. A leader of character follows through on commitments and does what is right even when it costs him personally. You can have average skill with exceptional character and still be an extraordinary leader. This is how God works. He works from the inside out. Sometimes your great abilities get in the way of a definitive work of character in your life. Anything you have is because of the grace of God, so thank Him for your abilities and allow Him to mold His character into your life.

Competence on the other hand gives you a platform to exercise your character. You are gifted and skilled in certain ways. It is imperative that you understand how you are wired. This self-awareness is your ticket to improvement. What you know today is not sufficient for what you need to know tomorrow. This is why competent leaders are ever learning. Current circumstances and future opportunities beg for your education. Skilled leaders ask lots of questions of those who have walked before them. They research and read about other successful leadership and organizational models. This is part of sharpening your skills.

A stagnant leader is an unattractive leader. Focus on your sweet spot. Spend your time on the number one thing you do best. If it is recruiting, then recruit. If it is raising money, then raise money. If it is coaching, then coach. If it is crunching numbers, then crunch numbers. If it is managing a home, then manage a home. But, in the process, become the best at what you do and who you are. Yesterday’s competency will not stand against today’s needs.

Passion does not equal expertise. Just because you want to do something does not mean you need to do it. Make sure that your skill set and experience matches your “want to.” Otherwise, you are setting yourself and others up for frustration. My passion will not improve my golf game unless I am skilled with hand-eye coordination. You can be sincere in your endeavors and still be involved in the wrong situation. Make sure you live and lead in environments that nurture and grow your giftedness.

This type of leadership development molds you into a leader worth following. Your competence gives you credibility, while your character sustains your credibility. Apply both, and then watch God work. Character with competence is your ticket to authentic leadership. Let these two be your guide, and God will use you beyond your own capabilities. Lead on!

“Do you see a man skillful and experienced in his work? He will stand [in honor] before kings; He will not stand before obscure men” Proverbs 22:29, AMP).

Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray my character and competence keep up with my success.

Application: How does the Lord want to grow my character and competence to be prepared for tomorrow today.

Related Readings: Exodus 28:3-15; Nehemiah 7:2; Proverbs 11:3; Jeremiah 2:33

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