By Jim Tune
In last week’s blog I posted an annotated list of five axioms for Christian leaders and promised five more for this week. I haven’t attempted to rank these axioms, as they are mostly situationally driven. They either apply to your current circumstance or they don’t. All of them have found application to my life and leadership—some of them very recently. Here are five more axioms for this week:
1. Become a lifelong learner. Read something. Harry S. Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Rick Warren insists that the moment you stop learning, you stop leading. If reading isn’t your thing, don’t let that stop you. Find a mentor. Enroll in a community college course. Listen to audio books or other educational online materials. Stay current.
2. Succeed by subtracting. In this age of information overload, successful leaders will be the ones who figure out what to leave out, so they can focus on what’s truly important. Limitless possibilities can be paralyzing. Dr. Seuss used a mere 256 different words in writing The Cat in the Hat. When his editor challenged him to write a book with only 50 different words, Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham, one of the best-selling children’s books of all time. A fruitful ministry isn’t about the things we choose to put in, it’s about the things we choose to leave out.
3. Take risks but never bet the farm. Ask: If this decision is wrong, is it going to be painful or fatal? Don’t lose your good judgment in the elation of launching something new. Likewise, acts of desperation rarely work. If you want to build something lasting, keep away from “bet the farm” risks or “Hail Mary” long bombs.
4. Invest in your people, not your vision. Every pastor I know believes they have a God-given vision for their church. Frankly, I doubt that. In any case, while vision is necessary, it is not nearly as important as loving the people God places in your care. It’s wrong to use people in order to achieve one’s goals.
5. Pray first. I love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live” (1 Timothy 2:1, 2, The Message). The apostle Paul lists prayer as the “first thing.”