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5 Marks of a Leader Who Feeds Others

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If you need people more than you feed people, you will soon be leading from empty.

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There are many ways to stall out your ministry. You could make a quick list like this one:

• Being busy instead of productive
• Lack of vision
• Low morale
• Being scattered more than focused
• Trying to please everyone

But there is one leadership misstep that will stall out your ministry every time.

If you need people more than you feed people, you will soon be leading from empty.

1. If you need people to fill volunteer roles.
2. If you need people to help you grow your church.
3. If you need people to give money.
4. If you need people to believe in the vision.
5. If you need people to trust your leadership.

You may be thinking, Wait a minute, every leader needs people to do that stuff.

Yes, but it’s all about the order, (of need and feed), and what’s underneath, driving you. It’s not semantics.

Here are several warning signs that your need is greater than how you feed.

• People have become a bother.
• Numbers matter more than stories of life change.
• Your joy factor is low.
• Your frustration level is high.
• You start trying to implement quick fixes, rather than value-driven, principle-based ministry.

Jesus said: “Feed my sheep.”

Let me go back to the misstep.

If you need people more than you feed people, you will soon be leading from empty. And if you lead from empty, your ministry will stall out.

That may sound counterintuitive because “feeding” people can empty you. But here’s the major difference.

Feeding people fills you because it’s fulfilling.

Yes, you can get tired from the work of ministry. You can get tired because you consistently feed people, but you get to go to bed each night and take care of that.

That is very different than an unfulfilling and stalled out ministry. That can empty you at a soul level.

The most fundamental element of a fulfilling ministry is that it’s other-person centered. When you genuinely pour into people, you get tired, but your heart is filled.

A full heart will always energize a tired body and help sustain a weary soul. This gives you the spiritual stamina to help you lead through and out of a stall.

The difference between needing people and feeding people can seem like a fine line. But when you cross over the line and flip the order of priority and focus, your leadership becomes desperate. And people can smell desperate.

The leader who lives first to feed the people lives dependent upon God.

This practice keeps you filled so you can feed others.

The best way to break through a stall is to lead dependent, not desperate.

FIVE PRACTICES OF LEADERS WHO FEED THEIR PEOPLE MORE THAN NEED THEIR PEOPLE

(Another way to express this is that you want more for the people than from the people.)

1. They Love Their People.

Church leaders don’t last long when they don’t love their people. If you run on empty, it’s easy to become distant from the people, and you can’t love people from a distance.

Genuine love always finds a way for tangible and personal expression.

It’s that same genuine love for people that fires you up when you see someone’s life change. That’s our motivation, the mission and the reward.

When you love someone, you want the best for them.

2. They Want the Best for Their People.

People pursued Jesus because he healed them, not because he drew big crowds.

They wanted to be part of what Jesus was doing because he taught them the truth that helped them live a better life, not because he was clever or popular.

Jesus always wants the best for people; he wants us to have “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Delivering your best ministry requires both a shepherd’s heart and a strategic mind.

A shepherd’s heart cares about the one and strategy helps you reach the many.

3. They Protect the People Spiritually.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” —John 10:10–11

As Christian leaders, we help protect our people spiritually in three primary ways.

1. Teaching biblical truth
2. Praying for God’s blessing
3. Challenging toward maturity

The best spiritual cover is for each person to be able to stand their ground, to stand firm (Eph. 6), under temptation and attack. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to lead people to this level of faith and spiritual maturity.

4. They Are Willing to Be With People.

You can’t be with all people all the time, but your desire to be with people matters. Your personality, gifts and actual responsibilities aren’t the issue. Great leaders spend time with people.

This can be more of a challenge in large and very large churches. In fact, there’s a subtle danger of becoming an event planner with a theological degree.

There’s nothing wrong with systems, processes and events. They help you reach more people. But at some point, we need to connect with people at a heart level.

5. They Possess a Passion for People’s Growth.

You can see the theme. Love the people, want the best for them, participate in their spiritual protection and be with them. This is the process of feeding the people, which results in their growth.

From a new Christian to a solid leader, I love helping people grow. I’ll bet you do too. That’s a core trait of a leader who desires to feed people more than need them.

Read more from Dan Reiland »

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. This article was originally published on Reiland’s blog, Developing Church Leaders.

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