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Leadership is work, not heroics, Leith Anderson tells conference

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–“Too many Christians have confused the call of leadership with a desire to be a hero,” Leith Anderson told participants in the Summit for the Third Millennium Church at Glorieta, a LifeWay Conference Center, Sept. 22-24.

Anderson, senior pastor of Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, Minn., said, “Heroes are rare, but leaders are everywhere. What leaders do is not spectacular or heroic — it is work.”

Anderson gave six characteristics of what he termed “leadership that works:”

1) Do what needs to be done. “Leadership is not about beauty, brilliance or eloquence,” Anderson said. “It is about figuring out what needs to be done at a specific place and time and doing whatever is necessary to get it done.”

2) Live Christianly. “How you live in circumstances you wouldn’t want or choose may be your best leadership tool,” Anderson said. “Our credibility to lead comes in the worst of life’s problems.”

3) Choose multiple mentors. “[Mentors are] those we get to know so well that we would predict what they would do in a situation that they have never encountered before,” Anderson observed. “They help shape you into the person and leader God wants.”

4) Learn the leadership context. Leadership never takes place in a vacuum, he said. A leader should discover the history of the community and the church. “Don’t assume that the latest book or conference will work in your setting,” Anderson warned.

5) Beware of the cutting edge. “There is a problem with the cutting edge. When you play with sharp instruments, you could get cut,” Anderson quipped. “Let someone else figure out which mushroom is poisonous. Effective leaders are those who watch the pioneers and learn from them. They don’t risk their church on the latest fad.”

6) Trust God for the long term. “Some church leaders minister for the moment while others minister for a lifetime. The most effective years of churches begin in the seventh, eighth or ninth year of the senior pastor’s tenure,” Anderson, who has served the same church since 1977, said.

“Jesus Christ did not send you to your church to start the ministry,”
he added. “He sent you there to finish it.”

The Summit for the Third Millennium Church is the first of a series of events called “Regenerated” and hosted by Glorieta. The next such event, “Evangelism in a Brave New World,” is scheduled at Glorieta, April 27-29, 2001. For more information, visit the Glorieta website at www.glorieta.com or call toll-free 1-800-797-4222.

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  • Jim L. Wilson