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Over the past several years, God has led me forward in cross-cultural leadership coaching ministry, and we have launched a new website that ties in with this one.
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Serving the King with you,
David & Kathy
Leadership is usually regarded as the use of power or authority to influence others, but have you ever thought of leadership as an opportunity to put yourself under the influence of others? Two thousand years ago, Jesus challenged common assumptions about leadership: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves ‘Benefactors.’ But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:25-26). Jesus expected his disciples to become leaders known more for their acts of service than for their exercise of authority.
The Trust/Influence Matrix is one way to consider how putting yourself under the influence of others may contribute to effective cross-cultural leadership. This counter-inituitive idea was an outgrowth of the dissertation* I completed this Spring: “A Capacity to Serve and to Lead Across Cultures: Intercultural Leadership and the Experience of American Missionary Leaders.” I explored how a posture of vulnerability, openness, and acceptance toward others influences the leadership process through interviews with eight cross-cultural missionaries who live on four continents in eight different countries. They taught me a few things about intercultural leadership – how to listen, how to persevere, and how to lead while being led.
The experience of these leaders demonstrated to me how it is not enough to desire to serve others, and it’s not enough to have traditional leadership skills. Effective cross-cultural ministry leaders are willing and able to allow others to influence the way they lead, serve and live.
This isn’t an easy road. Letting others influence you takes you in directions you didn’t intend to go. Understanding the perspectives of others sometimes causes you to question your own perspective. This has a disorienting affect. Self-confidence takes a hit, and that hurts. In the midst of navigating leadership experiences like these, I have experience pain, frustration, confusion, grief and a host of other feelings I’d prefer to avoid. But there is One who gives comfort, security and hope for those who take this leadership journey. Authentic leaders find rest in Christ, and their hearts look to Him just as the pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem over 2,500 years ago: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5).
*electronic copies of my dissertation are available upon request.