Leadership is influence. The quickest way to see if you’re a leader is to look over your shoulder. If no one is following you, you are not a leader.
If leadership is influence, then influence is earned by respect. If you don’t have the respect of others, you’re not leading anyone.
So how can you become a leader who people respect? By developing these six characteristics:
“Respected people do not tell lies” (Proverbs 17:7 GNT).
Integrity is the foundation of any good relationship. Your character as a leader matters. D.L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Your character is who you are when nobody is watching.
A reputation isn’t the same as character. People build reputation instantly. But it takes a lifetime to build character. The key to a good reputation is having good character. And character is what you have left when you’ve lost your reputation.
The leader who walks with integrity is free to be confident. They’re not afraid of anything, because they don’t have any skeletons in their closet. Genuinely confident people aren’t ashamed of anything. They don’t have anything to hide.
“Arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected” (Proverbs 29:23 GNT).
The Bible tells us to “clothe yourselves with humility” (1 Peter 5:5 NIV). That’s how you dress for success as a leader. But there’s often a misunderstanding about humility. It doesn’t mean to always put yourself down. It’s also not about denying your strengths. Humility means to admit your weaknesses.
Also, humility is realizing how much you owe to other people. Anytime I start to pat myself on the back, I remember the family members, teachers, and friendships that God used to make me the person I am today. We all stand on the shoulders of others.
Pastor, humility is simply admitting who you are. Every person you meet is better than you at some things. Likewise, you’re better than them at other things. Humility is simply being honest about this reality. People respect leaders who understand they have weaknesses and aren’t afraid of admitting them.
“People who promise things that they never give are like clouds and wind that bring no rain” (Proverbs 25:14 GNT).
We respect people when we know we can count on them to do what they’ve promised to do. You’ve probably seen this in your own ministry. You’ve had someone promise to help you and serve alongside you. Then the person leaves, and you’re left to pick up the pieces. You don’t respect someone who does that. Neither will your congregation.
I remember being convicted of this as a parent. It was easy to make my children rash promises about a fishing or swimming excursion, only to let other priorities take precedence. It wasn’t a big deal to me if I didn’t follow through on my promises, but it was to them. The same is true with the people you lead at church. If you consistently fail to fulfill your commitments, you’ll lose your ability to lead.
- Living on purpose.
“You will earn the trust and respect of others if you work for good” (Proverbs 14:22 GNT).
Leaders need goals. If your goals are respected, you will be too. People want to follow leaders who chase worthwhile causes. They want to know you’re spending your time on what matters.
The right goals are the secret to an effective life. We all know people who have spent their entire lives setting bad goals. They’ve climbed the ladder of success, but when they got to the top, they found that it was leaning against the wrong wall.
If you want people to follow you, make sure you’re leading them to set eternal goals that matter.
“He gives generously to the needy, and his kindness never fails; he will be powerful and respected” (Psalm 112:9 GNT).
We don’t honor leaders for what they receive. We honor them for what they give away. When Andrew Carnegie died, a note was found in his desk describing one of his goals: “I’m going to spend the first half of my life making all the money that I can, and I’m going to spend the second half of my life giving it all away.” That’s exactly what he did. More than a century after his death in 1919, we still know his name.
But none of us know how long we’ll live. That’s why we need to start being generous today by giving away what we have now. Do your giving while you’re living, so you know where it’s going. When people see you being generous with your time, talents, and resources, they will want to follow you.
“If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (Proverbs 3:4-6 TLB).
When you put God first in your life, you earn favor with others. People are drawn to those who naturally love the Lord. And they know how to spot a fake too. You don’t need to display a super syrupy faith. Instead, show genuine faithfulness.
For decades, Billy Graham and Mother Teresa were among the most admired and respected people in the world. Even non-Christians admire people who are genuinely faithful to Christ and strive to be like Jesus.
When you pass away, it likely won’t be the sermons you’ve preached that people will remember. Instead, they will remember your integrity, humility, dependability, purposefulness, generosity, and faithfulness.
Those are the marks of a leader people respect and follow.