I love the comical description (I Samuel 17:38-40) of King Saul outfitting shepherd boy David with his personal armor before sending David off to battle Goliath. After donning a coat of armor, a bronze helmet and a hefty sword, David attempts to walk around but cannot. David says, “I cannot go in these because I am not used to them.” David, true to himself, discards the state-of-the-art weaponry and picks up a shepherd’s staff, sling and five smooth stones. With these simple weapons in hand, David skips off to slay a giant.
Like David, the best renewal leaders feel comfortable in their own skin. They lead and pastor from their unique giftedness. They refuse to mimic the gifting’s of someone else or copy and paste the passions of others into their own DNA. They believe God entrusted them with a particular gift mix for this particular hour in the life of Christ’s church. The same must be said for the best renewal congregations. They, too, feel comfortable being themselves. In fact, an important renewal goal is for congregations to come fully alive as the churches God created them to be.
Here are seven characteristics of leaders who are comfortable being themselves:
Characteristic 1: They Are Self-Aware
Great renewal leaders know themselves. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They understand how others perceive them. With the aid of personality tests and carefully listening to trusted friends, they can identify those areas where they flourish and other areas where they struggle or have vulnerabilities.
Characteristic 2: They Trust Their Gifts
Great renewal leaders have the courage and confidence to trust that God provided them with the gifts necessary for this ministry moment. This gift mix also includes weaknesses that make a renewal leader dependent on God and others. As Paul states so well in II Cor. 12:10 “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Renewal leaders are humble but not timid.
Characteristic 3: They Share Their Strengths and Weaknesses With Others
Great renewal leaders share their strengths and weaknesses with their congregations. They find humor in personal challenges and ask for help when assistance is needed. Through truth-telling about personal giftedness (or lack thereof) they demonstrate the beauty of vulnerability in the broader Christian community.
Characteristic 4: They Design Ministry To Maximize Their Giftedness
Great renewal leaders put the best of who they are in service to Christ’s church. Without apology, congregations should embrace the unique passions and gifts of the leaders God sent them by providing avenues where those gifts can flourish. Leaders should lead. Teachers should teach. Pastors should shepherd.
Characteristic 5: They Search For Complementarians
Great renewal leaders build a team around them that complements their gifts rather than duplicating them. Most importantly they search for those whose giftedness exceeds their own. This demands, of course, a personal confidence that is a by-product of a healthy and affirming life in Christ.
Characteristic 6: They Know the Importance of Plugging Dikes
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of that fictional little Dutch boy who saved Holland by putting his finger into a leaking dike. Leaks must be attended to or all will be lost. Good renewal leaders know there are things they don’t do well but must, never-the-less be attended to or all will be lost (i.e., preaching, pastoral care, finances)
Characteristic 7: They End Ministry Seasons Positively Charged
Renewal ministry can drain the emotional battery of leaders. Still, leaders that minister from their strengths and design work-arounds for their weaknesses will end most ministry seasons more refreshed than depleted.