Kerala Express

John K. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”.

Everyday people are seeking leaders who can make a difference in their lives and to determine their destiny. 

An exemplary leader is one who has reached the measure of maturity to be an example.  To become an exemplary leader, where our talents and strengths could be developed, and to enhance our social skills and management skills to the maximum potential, the need for ongoing learning is necessary.  Both leadership and learning are intertwined, and we cannot separate the two. 

Leaders must be learners.  I respect leaders who are continuously learning because I know they are challenging their own assumptions and bringing more knowledge to themselves and the people they converse with.  Learning can take many different shapes. One of them is reading. Read books, newspapers, keep up with current issues in society, read the opinions of others, and discover the ways in which you agree or disagree. Debate topics you have read about with your friends and family.  Listening is another aspect of learning. We need to listen to conversations, to those we can really learn from. We can listen to podcasts while we are walking or doing housework. 

Another aspect of learning for leaders is by engaging in presentations and events that will challenge one to learn something new.  Hosting sessions monthly on a variety of topics will stimulate our brains by making us focus on something unexpected, which will clearly improve our creativity and brainstorming skills.  Leaders need to make an effort to show how important each individual’s growth is to the organization. 

Lifelong learning is one of the most effective ways to deal with change, and change is constant - change in our personal lives, change in our work lives, change in our local communities, governance, associations and organizations. One of the most influential management writers, Peter Drucker, wrote: “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”  We might be glad to be finished with school, college, or even a doctorate degree, but we must continue to challenge ourselves to learn something new.  However, learning does not always mean that we have to learn something new.  Relearning something that we have forgotten is extremely valuable when we find that we have lost some of our finely tuned skills.  People who don’t push themselves to continuously learn, read, listen, engage and relearn fail to come up with new ideas and struggle to obtain new perspectives. 

The power of example is the greatest, for it speaks the loudest and draws others to follow.  As leaders, our confidence, integrity, transparency and being genuine should always be an example for others to follow.  A genuine leader will be sensitive to peoples’ needs and affect a definite change for the best in their lives.  Love stimulates the will, invigorates the desire, and solicits the full cooperation of the people.  I find that everybody responds to the language of kindness, it is clearly understood by the blind and the deaf. 

A true leader is committed to the cause, and does not become the cause.  Staying personally dedicated to the cause can become extremely difficult, especially if the cause succeeds.  A shrewd change in thinking can overtake the leader of a successful ministry.  I admire Mother Teresa, who decided after winning the Nobel Prize that she would not go to accept any more recognition because it interfered with her work.  She knew she was not in the business of accepting prizes; she was in the business of serving the poor of Calcutta.  She maintained her dedication to the cause by refusing unrelated honors. 

When we open our mouths, our words express our total personality and reveal our level of maturity, our motives and the contents of our heart.  We need to be quick to apologize and honestly take the blame when we recognize our mistakes, instead of defending ourselves or blaming someone else.   We should have a humble and teachable spirit.  We read in the Bible in Hebrews 13:17; “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you”.  As youngsters, we need to be obedient to our godly, spiritual leaders.

Proverbs 20:11 “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” God’s word is so relevant in every situation, and this is so true when discussing a rebellious child. Wise King Solomon wrote this verse describing how a child’s actions will define who he is and how he is accepted. If a young person acts with purity and an upright heart, then he will be seen as a joy and a blessing. However, if a child chooses disobedience and defiance, then he will be labeled as rebellious and difficult. Rebellion is a deliberate defiance and opposition to authority and it often leads to confrontation and suffering.

Leaders in the church can preach on glowing themes of moral and ethical conduct, righteous living, and integrity, but if they are not setting this code of conduct before their people, then all the preaching is in vain. Nobody will be impressed.  Leaders and pastors are in a position to raise the standards of moral, ethical and spiritual level of the congregation by the power of their example.  Blessed is the leader who recognizes that every action sets an example to others and how fulfilling it is when this example brings glory and honor to God.  Dealing with money, handling family funds, spending with common sense, planning for the future, code of conduct with members of the opposite sex , ego problem and the temptation to abuse power at home, in the church or on the pulpit are all part and parcel of a leader’s  life. 

Do we walk our talk or do we leave people wondering what all the confusion is about?  Do we ask God according to His will?  Is our attitude and life in tune with the will of God?  Are our motives self-centered or Christ-centered?  A double minded man is often pulled into different directions, like a fractured bone, trying to please too many masters and always having opposing views in life.  It is in the nature of a double minded person to think of himself, not capable of keeping his word, unstable in all his ways and not focus on what is really important.   Peoples’ opinions matter a lot for a double minded man, but we need to remember that God’s wisdom and perspective is always the best.  A double minded leader can break the unity in a church, organization or fellowship. 

Spiritual leaders have a holy discontentment with the existing stagnant conditions. They have a desire to change, to move, to reach out, to grow, and to take a group or an institution to new dimensions of ministry. They have the spirit of Paul, who said in Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Leaders always have a vision and move forward towards fulfilling that vision.

 

There is no doubt that “The Best Leaders are the Best Learners”.  All genuine spiritual leadership begins in a sense of desperation, with the knowledge that we are helpless sinners in need of a great Savior. That moves us to listen to God and to cry out to him for help and for understanding in prayer. That leads us to trust in God and to hope in HIS precious promises. That frees us for a life of love and service which, in the end, causes people to see and give glory to our Father in heaven.

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