There was a bookstore at a train station in Kanpur that I was almost magically drawn to. It was as if a light was shining on one of the books. I had never heard of the author, but the book that he wrote forever changed a part of my life. The title was: “Developing the Leader Within You” by John Maxwell.
That was nearly 20 years ago. Even though I had worked as a principal and gotten a degree in theology, there was no training program for how to lead people. I devoured everything Maxwell wrote. We translated his books, held courses on his theories and for several years part of my morning prayer routing was to focus on the aspects of leadership that weren’t working in my life. I summarized all these things in my book “Personal Leadership” in 2009.
The key concept was and still is: How do you lead people so that they follow you because they want to and not because they have to? Effective leadership is found in the answer to that question.
Without John Maxwell and my other favorite, Jim Collins, who wrote “From Good to Great,” what we are doing today would never have been possible. But it took awhile before I realized that even if you are coaching churches, training leaders and have an excellent organization, the ministry can still be slowly dying. I don’t know how many seminars I had given on the theme “It’s all about leadership” before I realized that it’s not true! Because in the end, it’s all about Jesus!
The revival that we are seeing and that I encounter in the third world has one consistent driving force – it’s all about Jesus!
“Everything they have,” my friend the Indian pastor Jayseelan said very seriously, “is their Bibles, the blood and the cross.”
When Yonggi Cho’s church was experiencing explosive growth, leaders from all over the world came to visit. They church had grown from 5 people in a tent to 800,000 members. Most people thought that their key to growth was the way they coached new leaders through cell groups, so many people returned home and started cell groups – but they didn’t get the same result. Why? Because the Korean church growth didn’t start with cell groups but with a complete surrender to Jesus. Yonggi Cho’s ministry wasn’t about cell groups! It’s all about Jesus and only about Jesus. Everything else is secondary.
It’s all about Jesus! It is easy to get comfortable doing leadership training, coaching and books, and as I already said, I really do mean that it is incredibly important that we realize what qualities are required to get people to follow us willingly. I didn’t have those insights and I really needed them.
But it’s not leadership training, it’s not Maxwell’s theories that get you up off the couch, that motivate you to overcome your exhaustion and anxiety, and compel you to sacrifice your free time and your resources for the kingdom of God. It is Jesus on the inside who does that! Also, eventually it is God who gives the growth no matter how coached we are.
Of course I believe in education, training and coaching, but in the western world we believe too much in education. Education won’t get you revival, but it might hinder your church from growing!
If it’s all about Jesus, then it’s all about Jesus!