by Artios Magazine
One of the most practical qualities of a leader is his or her ability to effectively communicate. Effective communication is particularly an essential ingredient in everyday Christian leadership. This quality requires intentionality. More concisely, it requires clarity.
In Artios Christian College‘s introductory course Essentials of Vibrant Leadership (LEA11), students study several books on Christian leadership as they explore the essential qualities of Christian leadership. Both communication and clarity are among them. Though these two essentials can stand independently, they also relate.
Communication as a Leadership Essential
“Sometimes we forget about the power of words and the need for better communication”, says former LEA111 student Kelvin Cabrera.[ref]Kelvin Cabrera resides in Conroe, Texas and plans to complete his Certificate of Leadership Studies, Biblical Guidance this summer. He attends Iglesia de Dios: La Verdad Presente where he serves in the music and youth ministries.[/ref] “We get used to having it our way because of modern society. We become impatient or frustrated when others do not seem to understand us. How much easier would life be if everyone could be transparent?” Cabrera poses a worthwhile question. As Jesus-followers, re-created by God to image Him to the world around us, our communication ideally should provide transparency.
Cabrera continues to make his point, “As Christians we are called to a holy life, but without correct communication it seems sometimes that God might not be there… It is of utmost importance that Christians come to the same conclusion to come to terms with what was lost at Eden, yet restored by Jesus: as children of God we are all called to leadership… Communication is vital to vibrant Christian leadership because it connects the most important relationship between God the Father and man (through prayer), it allows for accountability and integrity, and it allows realistic means to reach the lost within the community.”
So how do we develop transparency through our communication as Christians? Cabrera goes on to explain that it starts with our prayer life:
“What is a Christian without God? It would make sense that for one to claim to be a believer, God would have to be in the middle of the person’s life. We are given the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to communicate with God
… To be one with God and to truly be of God, one has to have a relationship with Him. ‘Contemplative prayer keeps us home, rooted and safe, even when we are on the road, moving from place to place, and often surrounded by sounds of violence and war…we have already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God…’”[ref]Henri J.M Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflection on Christian Leadership. (USA, The Crossroad, 1989), 43.[/ref]
Though effective communication as a Christian leader starts with our prayer life, it doesn’t stop there. It moves from our communion with God to our earthly relationships.
Communication Meets Clarity
“In order for a [church] leader to effectively lead they will need to be good communicators. Whether it’s just to immediate staff or to everybody in the building, words need to be expressed. If a person cannot keep their word or fails to express something clearly, misunderstandings can arise.” What Cabrera is pointing to is the leader’s need for clarity. A Christian leader’s clarity of calling and focus will become evident through his or her communication.
Janhoi Kelly[ref]Janhoi Kelly is of Jamaican decent but currently resides in London, UK. He completed his Certificate of Leadership Studies in the late winter term, 2018. Janhoi attends the Church of God (Seventh day) Croydon, London where he participates in the church choir and is training to become an adult Sabbath School teacher.[/ref], another former LEA111 student expands upon this point,
“The axiom ‘As you gain clarity, you gain influence’[ref]Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future. (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2003), 91.[/ref] is an unquestionable fact that the 21st century leader must understand to be successful at leadership. Successful gold miners in the mid-1800’s strategically dug narrow, vertical and very deep mines instead of meandering across multiple spots collecting surface gold.[ref]Amber Riggs, 10 Qualities of Influential Leaders. (ArtiosMagazine.org, 2017)[/ref] A clear target and mission have always been key drivers to successful leadership.”
This begs the question, how does a Jesus-follower establish clarity of focus with which to develop effective communication?
Clarity of Focus as a Leadership Essential
The answer lies in the leader embracing his or her primary and secondary call.
Kelly goes on to unpack the relationship between clarity and calling, “The prioritization of leaders’ primary call is hinged, among other things, on their clarity of focus. Our primary calling as followers of Christ is ‘by Him, to Him, and for Him.'[ref]Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 27-37.[/ref] Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for Him.”[ref]Ibid, 27-37.[/ref] Effective leaders recognize that their accountability to their personal relationship and communion with God must maintain primacy over all else. Jesus reminded us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all good things shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). All the other special skills and charisma that the leader possesses are the secondary calling and, as Guiness puts it, only matters if the primary call matters most.”[ref]Ibid, 27-37.[/ref]
Clarity and Influence
Once leaders establish their callings, they can go on with clarity of focus to influence their followers for Christ. This, most practically, is accomplished through effective communication.
“Another important reason for having clarity of purpose is to have enormous depth of influence,” explains Kelly. “Leaders are as effective as the level of influence they have on their followers.[ref]Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future. (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2003), 97.[/ref] Clarity of focus enhances the perceived value of leaders and makes it easier for them to mobilize and secure the support of their followers. This results in greater depth of influence as it highlights the leaders’ confidence and makes them worth following. Jesus, even though He used mainly parables in public settings, explained them clearly when alone with His disciples (Mark 4:34). This is a prime example to leaders who should not have people following them blindly but master the craft of giving clear focused instructions and clarifications so the group can take aim and go deep.[ref]Amber Riggs, 10 Qualities of Influential Leaders. (ArtiosMagazine.org, 2017)[/ref]
Casting Compelling Vision through Clarity and Communication
Then there is the benefit of casting compelling vision through clarity and communication.
As Kelly puts it, “Proposing abstract dreams and ideas with optimistic outcome can often be unpopular, especially with the more traditional and skeptical people in the leader’s realm. However with a clearly outlined vision communicated without mixed signals, the leader will successfully capture the commitment and enthusiasm of his or her followers. Typically the leader should be more certain about the vision even when the plans and details are obscure. These are only uncertainties, not the vision.”[ref]Andy Stanley, Next Generation Leader: Five Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future. (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2003), 97.[/ref]
Developing Clarity of Focus and Effective Communication
As disciples of Christ, we all are called to leadership whether or not we have an official ministry title. Therefore, we should all be cultivating each leadership essential in our own lives. That is where Essentials of Vibrant Leadership comes in! LEA111 is a 5 week online course that allows students flexibility to participate when it fits into their individual schedules. In this course, students have the privilege of interacting with each other and with a knowledgeable, engaging facilitator. The course material and discussions allow students to take a deeper look at their own leadership strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, it allows students with encouragement and practical application to become the everyday Christian leader God calls them to be in their unique situations.