Distinctly Christian Leadership: “Learning” Part 2 By Dave Alford

Dave AlfordDeveloping leaders for our ministries must begin with training our people to learn because learning provides the fuel for leadership. In my last post I described how this learning must be more than just head knowledge. It’s got to involve the heart, hands, and mouth as well. As we show people how to learn this way, they develop three potent leadership resources.

First, as they learn with their hearts, they begin to understand their PERSONHOOD. They discover the unique identity God gave them. They can’t lead effectively by trying to be someone else, at least not for very long. It’s exhausting and fake. Potent leadership is rooted in being who God made them to be. Knowing their identity gives them the security to be authentic. Authenticity builds trust, trust produces influence, and influence is the very essence of leadership.

Second, as our people learn with their hands, they discover their God-given PURPOSE. The pattern God used to reveal purpose in the Bible involved action. Moses is just one example. He was passionate about the problem of the oppression of the Hebrews so God directed that passion into a call to action to lead the Hebrews to freedom. In obeying that call, Moses discovered his purpose of being a just judge for oppressed people. In the same way, as our people learn with their hands by allowing God to direct their passions into obedient action they discover God’s purpose for their lives. Passionate purpose enables them to inspire others and give clear direction. Inspiration and clear direction are key characteristics of effective leaders.

Third, as our people share their learning with their mouths, they define the PRIORITY for their lives. As knowledge moves from head to heart to hands, it is transformed into something extremely valuable, wisdom. Wisdom needs to be shared and, when it is, it is refined even further. Anyone who has ever taught knows that the teacher learns the most. This happens on many levels, but one of the most important is when godly wisdom is openly shared, it inevitably clashes with cultural values. This clash creates a choice about priority. 1 John 2:16-17 says, For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” When our people openly share their wisdom, they come face-to-face with the values of the culture, and are confronted with the choice between cultural priorities of pleasure (“lust of the flesh”), possessions (“lust of the eyes”), and power (“pride of life”) and eternal priorities centered on doing God’s will. The choice they make becomes the well from which they can develop other people. Developing others builds leadership capacity and effectiveness.

As our people develop their personhood, purpose, and priority, they are able to serve others in ways that naturally result in leadership. More about that in my next post.


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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director



Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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