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I am a fan of leadership. I like reading books on the topic and love implementing best practices related to leadership. I have read books by Maxwell, Drucker, De Pree, Collins, Godin and many others. There is a plethora of books on leadership…in fact, it might take a life time to get through all of them.
But my most recent interaction with the topic of leadership came from a series I found in YouVersion entitled “Legacy Leadership” by J. Lee Whittington. Mr. Whittington is a PhD Professor of Management at the University of Dallas. If you use YouVersion as a reading guide, then I would highly recommend you add this to your reading plans.
This study starts off with a prelude to the theme of the series which immediately grabbed my attention:
Many people define leadership as influence. I don’t think this simple definition of leadership is wrong, but I do believe it is incomplete. I have a more comprehensive definition of what I call Legacy Leadership. Legacy Leadership is a process of intentional influence that takes place in the context of a relationship.
That is it! That is what makes leadership come alive for me. It is not just influence, but intentional influence. Influence with a purpose. Influence with an end result in mind. Influence done in the context of a relationship that is growing and maturing. Influence that makes a positive difference.
Mr. Whittington goes on to say:
In the context of leadership, the word intentional indicates the purpose or over-riding mission that guides a leader’s behaviors. Paul [Apostle Paul] was very explicit about his purpose: he was “exhorting, encouraging, and imploring each one of them as father would his own children so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
“So that” is one of Paul’s favorite phrases. He uses it in this verse to emphasize the intent of his leadership. His goal is to develop Christ-like followers who will walk worthy of God’s calling. He expressed this same purpose in his letter to the Colossians. He prays for them to grow in their understanding of God’s will “so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1: 9-12).
BAM! Hello! Can I get an AMEN?!
Intentional leadership has a SO THAT associated with it. Paul used it over and over again. He was an intentional/legacy leader. He knew that when writing to the churches he planted as well as his disciples and co-laborers, he was not just proclaiming edicts and tasks, but provided the SO THAT context.
Think about some of the things we face regularly related to our facilities:
We are starting a building project…SO THAT…we can provide more seats and opportunities for people to meet Christ.
We replace our HVAC filters each quarter…SO THAT…we can keep our units running most efficiently and extend the life of the units. In addition, it allows us to inspect other components of the system to ensure they are functioning well.
We are intentional and vigilant in maintaining a Work Order log…SO THAT…we stay organized, know what work is outstanding, so the balance of the staff knows tasks are being completed and to be proactive with scheduled maintenance activities.
We extract our carpet once a month…SO THAT…we present the very best first impression to our guests.
Does that make sense to you or am I on an island caught up in my own mind and word games? For me, the SO THAT makes our leadership…our activities…our tasks…our action items, INTENTIONAL. And when we are intentional, things get done and done for the right reason.
Here are some closing challenges from this series. Take a minute and reflect on these:
- Take a moment to list the various spheres of influence that have been entrusted to you. Your work, your church, your marriage, your family.
- Do you have an over-riding purpose that is guiding your influence in each of those arenas?
- Is your influence intentional?
- What is the “so that” of your leadership?