February 2016: Culture • Character • Competency – What We Embody Says A lot About Our Character

February 4, 2016 | GNJ News, Bishop's Relay Column

Character Counts. It informs our decision making and where and how we spend our energy and time. When I think of people I want to follow, it is people that have characteristics that I experience in outstanding leaders. For instance one character trait that is really important to me is consistency or authenticity. I like leaders who act the same whether they are with other important leaders or when they are stuck in a line at a store. What they do consistently is more important than their title or even their accomplishments.

Today’s article is part two of a four part series on Culture, Character and Competency. Last month I talked about culture and its ability to shape a team of people and their outcomes. I said we look for leaders who are Christ centered and Holy Spirit led and practice five cultural traits within teams and their leadership:

1) Trust – They are trustworthy, grow trust with others and trust others;

2) Disagree – They are willing to disagree to find the best solutions;

3) Commit – They are willing to pull their weight on a team by making commitments to carry out tasks and complete the tasks on time;

4) Accountable – They are willing to account for their ability and allow others to challenge them when they do not deliver with excellence and on time;

5) Achieve Results – They work with the team and focus their energy to achieve fruitful results for the mission.

We look for leaders whose culture is team focused in these five areas. It encompass how Jesus lived with his disciples and what he expected of his disciples.

This week we add character as the second piece of what makes up a transformational leader in GNJ. “He’s a real character” is a phrase that we hear about people from time to time. In this sense of the word, character generally refers to a person’s personality. Character also refers to what is core to our makeup. It is reflective of the values, virtues and qualities of a person. King Solomon was known for the characteristic of wisdom, King David for courage, Peter for impetuous faith, John Wesley for spiritual piety and worldly engagement, Mother Teresa for caring, and Martin Luther King, Jr. for justice. Their commitments and daily living typically revolved around the core values of their life.

There is another side of character that makes up what we embody, the characteristics that shape how we lead. An organization needs to be clear about the characteristics it seeks in its leaders. As we look for transformational leaders to serve in GNJ we look for six character traits. These six were developed by groups of laity and clergy when we asked what character traits were needed in a leader to make disciples and grow vital congregations to transform the world. Here is what they shared:

1. Transformational – Spirit-led pioneers who initiate a vision of what could be, develop strategies, and inspire people to work together to achieve a life and world changing mission.

2. Passionate – Leaders with a contagious love for God and others who are excited about the mission and move people and ideas to action.

3. Open – Grace-filled leaders who are grounded and yet embrace new ideas and learnings. Leaders who are open to and embrace people who think, look, act and live differently.

4. Relational – Leaders who are genuine in their relationship with God and others, seek a team experience and connect with others through their interests and ideas.

5. Learning – Life-long learners who are teachable and dedicate their life to learning and applying new ideas.

6. Creative – Leaders who don’t let adaptive challenges stop the mission but are curious and inquisitive, take risks and apply innovative ideas even when there are limited resources to overcome challenges.

These characteristics are important for the church at this time as we seek work toward what is next for the church. Which of the six are important and are characteristics people use to describe you? Which are ones that need further development in your life? As you serve on committees, lead Bible studies, small groups and mission teams, as you provide pastoral leadership, how are the characteristics that make up your leadership making and forming new disciples and growing vital congregations? How is your leadership transforming the world?

I invite you to lean more into the character traits that are less descriptive of your personality and more descriptive of what makes up your leadership.

Keep the faith!
John Schol, Bishop