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August 2014 - Leadership Lessons from Paul’s Shorter Epistles

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Paul’s shorter epistles:  Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, and Philemon contain many lessons for leadership, followership, and life. Three are crucial: (1) demonstrating Character, (2) working hard to become Competent, and (3) and possessing Confidence.

Leaders demonstrate Character. Character is who you are.  Paul stressed the importance of character. See: Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 2:8-10; 5:1-21; Philippians l 4:8; Colossians 3:12-14.  For twenty five years I was a civilian educator and administrator for the United States Air Force Air University.  The Air Force stressed three core values:  Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in all we do. These core values are at the heart of the character the Air Force expects each person to demonstrate. Bruce Lee said, “Knowledge will give you power, but character gives respect.” Quite simply, if followers don’t respect their leader, the leader will lack effectiveness.  But of course, character alone is not enough, leaders must have competence.  And competence is the result of hard work.

Leaders possess Competence. Competence is what you can do.  Paul taught the importance of a strong work ethic so necessary for competence.  See 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-12; 2 Timothy 2:6.  By definition, a lack of competence in important areas results in incompetent leadership. Competencies include possessing necessary skills and knowledge; understanding and being able to navigate the organization; being able to lead change; and possessing the skills of motivating, relating, and communicating.  As I have written elsewhere, “If you can’t communicate, don’t try to lead.”

Leaders must show Confidence. Confidence is the belief you can lead others and the organization. In First Corinthians 14:8 Paul asks who would follow the sound of an indistinct bugle into battle. Ask yourself; are you a willing to follow a leader who lacks confidence in accomplishing  the mission or knowing how to lead? If a leader possesses requisite character and competence, then the needed confidence will follow.  And with each success, confidence will grow. 

These are the three pillars of leadership: Character, Competence, and Confidence.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

August 2014 - Leadership Lessons from Paul’s Shorter Epistles
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