Our failure to listen, undermines our capacity to lead.
Some leaders bewitch us. Slick salespeople, they charm their way into our affections and confidence; promising this and speaking grandly about that.
Other leaders get the job because they speak well. They’re clear, articulate, compelling, funny, or entertaining. We’ll follow such people a long way.
Others have track-records of success and achievement. They get things done and let no one stand in their way. Their doggedness impresses us.
But in the Kingdom of God, a primary challenge for the leader is to listen…to both God and the people of God. Attentiveness, not assertiveness, stands as a primary quality. We lead others only where we ourselves are being led. We say to others only what we ourselves have first heard from the Lord.
Jesus declared, “I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me.” (John 8:28) Too few of us follow His example.
Most writers on leadership extol the virtues of vision-casting, people-management, fiscal responsibility, focus, and hard work. Few talk about leading from the silences—those quiet places and spaces in our lives where we stop and listen to the Spirit of God.
Leadership that emerges from busyness reflects the chaos of our culture. Not that our culture minds. If ADD/ADHD was once considered a psychological disorder, it has now become an honored value among leaders. Exhaustion for the Christian leader used to signal a life out of control; we now wear it as a badge of honor.
Leading from silence requires an uncommon level of security and humility. Some things will take longer; other things won’t get done at all. If we fear failure or the perception of failure, we’ll opt for frenetic leadership rather than faith-guided leadership.
Of course, this “leadership from silence” relates to not just pastoral staff in churches, but to spouses in marriages, parents in families, managers in the workplace, politicians in government, and student leaders in schools.
Leaders listen, or should. They hear the cries and the pleas of the people. They also hear the Spirit of God. And like the prophets of old, they seek not to impress the people or exercise power over the people, but to connect the people with the One whose Word and words change our destiny.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”