I had been out of college for 6 years and I was pumped to be able to further my education in Biblical Counseling. All I had to do was to get to the training facility 4 hours away each Monday for my entire summer. I had arranged to carpool with another pastor almost an hour out of my way. The first session started at 9 AM so we chose a rather early time to meet. My trip to the “park and ride” was detained because my headlights were so dim and the car was running rough. I arrived just minutes after they left. Eventually, I was able to get to a pay phone and call my wife Marti to come and help me get back home. I drove our other vehicle to the training, arriving about an hour late. I learned about counseling that day, but also learned that the alternator was critical for keeping the battery from being drained. A few years later God used this concept to help me realize that I had been sinfully fixated on how that a particular leader in my life could help me be successful. I failed to recognize that I had done very little to initiate a healthy connection with him. I had become a drainer rather than a re-charger. I was ignorant of an important role of “leading up” that John Maxwell shares in his book 360 Degree Leader. I have summarized his nine aspects to connecting up in the following paragraph (the list is at the end of the post).
You can best invest in your leader if you know your leader. You should know his heartbeat, his priorities, his vision, his pet projects, his personality, his weaknesses, his family and how to gain his trust. If you know these things and support these things you are in position to be a “charger” rather than a “drainer” for your leader. As I assessed my relationship with this leader the following things came to mind. I was concerned with him knowing me. I wanted him to know the challenges I had, the strengths I had and the potential I had. I wanted him to be interested in my projects and to be available to help me. I considered him to have the power to make my life better. I resented it when it seemed that he was not recognizing these things. God convicted my heart of these sinful attitudes and I was able to share this with this man before God led us to Iowa. Once in Iowa I quickly connected with the State Representative for our Iowa churches and offered my help. I shared with him that I wanted to be a refresher not a drainer. I wanted to be one that contributed to the recharging of an organization, not just one that saps the energy.
Maxwell’s Nine: from his book 360 Degree Leader
1. Listen to your leader’s heartbeat – consider finding out what makes your leader laugh, cry and sing. This will give you a glimpse of his joy, passion and fulfillment.
2. Know your leader’s priorities – Maxwell contrasts this with the first one is that this is what he “has to do” not necessarily what he “loves to do.”
3. Catch your leader’s enthusiasm – This helps us better pass it on to others because it is somewhat contagious.
4. Support your leader’s vision – our leaders should hear us reiterating their vision to others.
5. Connect with your leader’s interests – We often see our leaders pet projects, but do we try to embrace them?
6. Understand your leader’s personality – Leaders expect others to accommodate their personality. Therefore, it is wise for us to understand what that personality is.
7. Earn your leader’s trust – He needs to know that you have his back.
8. Learn to work with your leader’s weaknesses – Most weaknesses are easy to see, complain about and possibly exploit. However, it takes a good leader to work with the weaknesses of another.
9. Respect your leader’s family – His family is an important part of his life.