We are living in a day and age where we don’t see many good examples of leadership. We need people to be leading like we’ve never needed it before. Certainly, in the life of the local church and with God’s people, we need strong, good, godly leadership.
One of the things I’m realizing more and more is the need to actually lead our own life first. Leadership starts with your life. If you can’t lead your own life you can never lead others. Therefore, I’ve become convinced that one of the most important leadership principles is self-leadership.
Longevity is essential for a testimony of the faithfulness of God, but we tend to underplay it. We see many start well, do great things, big things — but at the end of the day they bomb out, they somehow lose their way. Our character is assessed by the question of “how long” – how long you’ve been doing what you’re doing. It’s not just about whether we’ve started but whether we’ve also finished.
It amazes me that when you look at the life of Paul in the scriptures, he writes this when he comes to the end of his life, reflecting what he has given himself to:
2 Timothy 4:6-8
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Notice how he doesn’t reflect on how many churches he has planted, how many regions he visited, how many nations he preached in, or even how many letters he wrote. You never find Paul reflecting on these things in any of his letters. That should make us realise that the things we often regard as the most important are things Paul doesn’t even bring into the equation. Rather, he goes back to this: I’ve fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.
So while there is such a thing as godly ambition and we need to pursue the things God has called us to do, too often we reflect on the things that don’t even matter at the expense of what matters most. I want this said of me: “He finished the race.” Not “I survived”. Too many are “surviving”. Paul didn’t survive, he thrived. He was walking in all that God had for him. And then he finished, never losing his faith! Therefore, it can be done.
Are you settled in your call?
The question we’ve got to keep asking ourselves in leadership is this: are we settled in our call? This is vital for us to finish our race. If we have settled in the call that God has given us we are going to be able to really help others and not be intimidated, bringing them through and never losing our way, burning out, trying to be someone that God hasn’t called us to be.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I doing what I should be doing?
2. Am who I should be?
3. Am I not trying to be someone else?
4. Am I rather trying to be who God has made me to be?
5. Am I where I should be?
Self-leadership determines everything about our longevity. I’m convinced that our ministry follows our lives – it flows from our lives – and our lives don’t follow or flow from our ministry. Too many leaders are trying to make their ministry great, but if your life is in the right place and you are living it correctly, your ministry will flow out of your life and you will stay the course.
Watch your life
In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul tells Timothy this:
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
You must watch your life and doctrine. Don’t just be good at watching everyone else and their life and doctrine. Don’t just watch your doctrine either, but also watch your life. Both. Not enough of us are putting correct emphasis on watching our lives. Note Paul’s departing words to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28:
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
As leaders and overseers, we are very good at watching over everyone else, but actually we must first watch ourselves. This is because it’s from your life where your ministry flows out from.
My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
This provides us some insight into how we watch our lives. Here we see that we ought to guard our heart, watch our words, watch our eyes, watch our feet, and be careful where we go and what we’re moving in.
In this short book I’ll expound on several keys of self-leadership that help us to watch our life. Briefly, they are:
1. Leading your relationships 2. Leading your spiritual life 3. Taking care of your physical body 4. Taking care of your mental health 5. The subtle destroyers
We will expound on these in more detail. You can also watch the video versions of these at Youtube.
Tyrone Daniel leads New Covenant Ministries International (NCMI) and is part of Redemption City Church, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.