What Makes a Leader Happy?


As a young leader, I wanted those I led to work on whatever I put in their minds, and I wanted them to succeed in our projects so that I would get my needs met. I hadn't claimed the world as my oyster, but certainly the church was. It was mine to consume and use to meet my need for significance. Did I know this? Of course not. I would have laughed at you if you had suggested it. I would have denied it and would not have believed it.

After all, I was committed to evangelism; I organized outreach events and provided training for church members. My church was very successful. We attracted many seekers and many made decisions to follow Christ. I encouraged our people to be mindful about whom they talked to and invited to our events. I recommended that they work only with those who were candidates to attend our church. I didn't think it did much good to lead people to Christ who would attend another church. I had attendance goals I wanted to reach.

If I was not seeing enough progress numerically, an inner pressure would build inside me over time. This would invariably lead to a passionate burst of emotion and a "get with the program" type of sermon. In one of my "best" I said something like, "I don't know about you, but I am tired of playing church. I want to see some new Christians around here. If you are as fed up as I am with dinking around, meet me this afternoon at two o'clock, and we will go door to door in this community for Christ." I went home and after lunch I asked my wife, Jane, if she was going with me to the church to do the door-to-door thing. She looked at me with a little smile. "No, I would rather have my arms amputated," she said. In the end, I don't think even I went. She convinced me that no one would show up.

I cared about people, I was sincere, and I was highly motivated for Christ. I had lofty hopes and dreams. Like Thor Heyerdahl standing gallantly on the bow of his raft Kon-Tiki, I stared out to sea with a confident smirk, knowing that just over the horizon were great opportunities, more adventure, and worlds to conquer. Heyerdahl could not swim; neither did I appreciate the peril I was in. I was happy when those I respected noticed and affirmed me as a leader. (That still makes me happy, by the way.) 

Today, however, the primary source of my happiness as a leader is similar to Paul's, who told the church at Philippi: "Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose" (Philippians 2:2).

Paul prefaced this statement by saying, "Is there is any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?" (Philippians 2:1).

In other words, it made Paul happy when those around his followers could see that being a disciple was useful for life. He found his greatest joy in other people's success. I feel the same.

Written by Bill Hull

Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

Photo by Lotte Meijer on Unsplash