The following article is a reprint from Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church. (If you’re not familiar with Bethel Church in Redding, California, you need to be. They are in the forefront of much of what God is doing in our day.)
Begin message from Kris:
Have you ever questioned what it would look like to be surrounded by world-class leaders? Or to be a world-class leader yourself? I would propose that the greatest leaders of our day are not solely the president or the pope, rather they are the individuals in our everyday lives that inspire and ignite people to pursue and prepare for a vision or mission. Personally, I work and live in an environment where I am surrounded by world-class leaders that cultivate and equip others to do the same; an ecosystem of sorts that creates the finest leaders — no, they are not perfect, but I would argue that they are some of the finest leaders of our day.
One of the greatest attributes of a world-class leader is the ability to raise up other strong leaders that can lead and carry out a mission and vision farther and wider than you have ever been able to do on your own. It is extremely rewarding to watch other people that I have led and poured into over the years step up to the plate, outrun me in the race and carry on the vision beyond my own ability.
This week, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Chris Cruz, one of the leaders in our environment that was equipped and now equips powerful, strong, and faith-filled leaders all over the world.
I want to share with you some primary principles for young leaders that Chris Cruz shared with me. I hope these keys inspire and provoke you to become a stronger and wiser leader no matter your age and in turn help inspire others.
I asked Chris Cruz some questions about what he’s learned as a leader and I believe his insights are key for any leader desiring to develop themselves or develop others in their leadership ability. You can also watch the interview on this
What did you learn in your first year in leadership as a 22-year-old Revival Group Pastor (at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry)? What went through your mind, and how did you prepare?
I realized the great risk that had been invested in me as a 22-year-old when I was asked to lead a group of 60 students that ranged in ages from 18 to 70 years old. I knew I might have had knowledge that was greater than many I was leading, but my wisdom could not compare to the years of life they had on me. I prepared the best I could for my initial year of pastoring in the school by devouring Paul’s letters to Timothy. Paul told Timothy to lead by example, so in my first year, I truly adopted this idea. I thought first I needed to make sure I was leading by example. I wish I could say leadership was as simple and as easy as that in my first year, but you could imagine the challenge of having to learn how to lead people that are far older and wiser than you.
The greatest key I adopted and still use today was asking a lot of questions. As a young leader, the challenge is to often think that you need to prove your capability when actually you need to prove your humility. The truth is, you are not going to have all the right answers or know all the right solutions, but
your ability to learn and receive input will be key to your success.
I could not agree more with Chris – being a lifetime learner is a sign of great humility.
How do you motivate people as a leader?
First of all,
leadership moves at the pace of trust. If there is no trust we will move really slow, however, if there is a lot of trust you can move incredibly fast. The challenge as a leader is to want to motivate by gripping people by the arm to follow you in the vision, but without investing in their hearts there will be no reason for them to invest in the vision. In return, you will not have trust; you will have real conflict and artificial harmony.
As a leader, I would challenge you to ask yourself the question, “Have I invested in the trust bank?” This goes both ways; as a leader, you need to invest in the trust bank and as a follower, you need to invest in the trust bank. When it comes time for a “withdrawal” if neither has invested, there will be nothing to pull from; the foundation will lay bare and the artificial harmony will fall to the ground as you realize it hasn’t been standing on a false foundation anyways.
If all leadership is built on trust then the million-dollar question is, how do you build trust with people?
There are key trust builders and breakers in leadership. One being, it is vital as a leader to create an environment where people have what they need to excel and feel safe; people need to feel capable of being fully who they were created to be. If we build an environment where people feel they need to wear a mask or fit a mold to belong, we have failed at allowing real conflict and we rather have built artificial harmony.
One of the keys to ensuring others feel capable of being fully themselves is when, as a leader, you model vulnerability; this creates an environment that isn’t afraid of conflict or imperfection, but that nurtures and repairs the cracks and bruises that are inevitable in life with people. Conflict is not what should scare you as a leader, conflict will be your greatest key to building real trust. A trust breaker in leadership is when your yes is not your yes and no is not your no. If I say I am going to keep that information to myself and I do not, trust will be lost as a leader.
How did you learn to press into conflict instead of running away from it?
I learned to press into conflict rather than run away in marriage, but also in my early years of pastoring. I realized that if I can lean into a moment’s pain, the gain of the long-term level of trust will far surpass the initial pain. The truth is, running into the fire isn’t a lot of people’s natural tendency.
As a leader when I realize the people that I have conflict with drawback into a cave, I step forward with the desire to understand. I begin asking questions like, “Have I done something to hurt you?” or “What are you feeling?”
How do you inspire people to walk with you?
It is important for leaders to understand your responsibility versus your influence.
The key here is to make it my priority to care for people’s hearts over influencing them to think a certain way or adopt a certain vision.
Metaphorically speaking this looks like me painting on a canvas with watercolors and the people can add with whatever medium they’d prefer to the canvas. I learned people tend to support what they help create.
My prayer for you this week is no matter what lies you have believed about your ability to lead or to lead well that you would bring them to the Lord and ask Him what He believes about your leadership. One of our greatest strengths as leaders is our ability to lead with the Holy Spirit; He will be your greatest companion and strongest support no matter the circumstance you are leading in.
I also want to encourage you this week, if you feel unnoticed or not seen in your leadership that you would hear the Lord’s voice and guidance in the journey and process of preparing you and establishing you as a leader.