I was honored this week when Jesse Phillips with CatalystSpace blog called me a “seasoned leader”. I feel I still have more to learn than I have learned, but it did cause me to reflect on some of the experiences I have had and people that have influenced me in my leadership ability.
Here are a few of those experiences and people that quickly come to my mind:
When I was in high school I served as student body president of a large, new school. My principal gave me freedom to do things most students never get to do. We wrote the student government constitution, organized clubs, hosted assemblies, and had a load of fun doing so. (I saw my principal recently and thanked him again for his influence. He taught me to release responsibility to people early and be willing to take a risk on others.)
I worked full-time all the way through college. As a sophomore, I became a retail department manager of a large store. Most days I was in over my head, but one of my colleagues was an older, mature, retired businessman. Although he technically “worked” for me, he taught me more about leading people than I could learn in college. (I learned to listen to those with more wisdom than me.)
I remained in retail after college, completed a management-training program for Belk Stores Services, and then served in several positions over a few year period. When my family began to grow, I decided to look for better working hours and so I became an independent insurance agent for Farmers Insurance Group. I was extremely successful in this venture and learned the principles of building something from nothing, marketing, and managing cash flow. (Funny how much those skills are needed in church planting!)
An opportunity to buy a small manufacturing company came available, and I convinced my wife to join me. We closed out successful careers to chase a dream. If it could go wrong, it did, and we sold within 5 years to the first serious buyer to come along. Through that negative experience, however, I learned huge principles of taking risks, leading under pressure, managing stress, to not run when things are difficult, and ways to overcome obstacles. (Failure sometimes teaches us our biggest lessons.)
When God called me into ministry, He had me begin with nothing, then quickly sent me to an old, historic church seeking to rebuild. That rebuilding experience led to my first church planting type environment and it was there God instilled in me a passion for church growth and ultimately the desire for church planting. I left this church to become involved my first church plant and, a few years later, God called me to plant the church where I am today. Today God is still allowing the experiences and people in my life to shape my leadership abilities.
Where did you learn leadership? Who are the people and what are the experiences that have shaped the leader you are today?
For some of my leadership principles, click HERE.