by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 21 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Blue Denim and Lace)

"Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee." —Psalms 32:9.

Dr. Lee Roberson has said, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." One of the great needs in our generation is the need for leaders. Everyone to some extent is a leader. The pastor in the church, the teacher in the class, the superintendent in the department, the father in the home, the mother and the children all have a sphere of leadership. The great problem of being a leader is that of having to start the fire yourself. Many people can serve God and become a blessing once they have blessed by another, but someone has to begin the service. Someone has to have a blessing before the service starts. he must find his blessing alone so that he in turn can lead others to be blessed. How to do this is the subject now presented for our thinking.

1. The leader must have inner motivation. I have known many preachers who could preach a great message if it were preceded by someone else's message. I have known many singers who could sing a great solo if they could be inspired first. The leader, however, must have inner motivation. His motivation must come from character and not from inspiration. One who depends upon external inspiration becomes unpredictable because he is giving himself to powers outside his own control as he has no power over external motivation. One who through character and duty has learned to gain his inspiration from within will develop more consistency and hence, better leadership ability.

One should learn things that inspire him. I once heard a great preacher say, "I am always looking for things that inspire me." This is very important. When one know what inspires him he should write it down. In fact a list of such things should be made in order that we may learn how to be inspired from within rather than from without.

2. The leader must have predictability. A follower can shout today and cry tomorrow but a leader must offer predictability to his followers. They must learn what to expect from him. To be sure, a leader will have high hours and low hours, but he must learn to conceal his disappointments and heartaches and walk predictably before his followers. This means that a leader will have to walk on the highest level he is able to maintain. It is better to go 60 miles an hour all of the time than 90, then 10, then 80, then 100, and then 20. Such leadership does not prompt mature followship.

3. The leader must be able to fill the appetite he creates in followers. In other words, the leader's production must be able to fill his image. He must not lead the followers to more than he can give and he must not create appetites in the followers that he cannot fill.

Many preachers err in this respect by announcing flashy titles that create in the minds of their people appetites for something that the talent, knowledge, and ability of the leader cannot fill.

4. A leader should have a checklist. He must never trust his memory. There is no one to remind the leader what to do. In every obligation he should have a list before him as his reminder.

5. The leader must know where he is going. He must also sell the follower on the fact that he knows where he is going. The leader must look down the road and plan the trip. He should plan on the trip several points of fulfillment and arrival. For example, when our family takes a vacation, I draw up a schedule. I want to arrive in this town at this time and at the next town at a certain time, etc. On a 1000-mile trip one can have twenty goals to reach and hence feel a sense of fulfillment twenty times. Whereas another would simply have the 1000-mile goal as the only goal and only feel one sense of fulfillment. The leader must remind the people of intermediate goals as well as the ultimate goal. Consequently, the followers (and the leader too, for that matter) can keep a sense of achievement as they reach little goals on the way to the big goal.

A good illustration of this is a football game. The ultimate goal is to win the championship. There is a more immediate goal of winning the present game. Then there is still a smaller goal of making a touchdown; however, the most immediate appetite to satisfy is that of making a first down. The stands cheer some over a first down, more over a touchdown, still more over victory, and most over the championship. One's life should be this way and the leader should plan the activities of his followers so as to satisfy secondary appetites as well as the primary one. There must be first downs in life as well as touchdowns. This is why it is often more satisfying to make a touchdown by a series of first downs than to score on a long play. The long play may be more immediately satisfying and exciting. This is why life's victories are won basically on a series of first downs. People who take the short cuts seldom win the final victory.

6. The leader should also be a good follower. Every leader also has a sphere of life in which h follows. The corporal leads the privates but follows the sergeant. The sergeant leads the corporals but follows the lieutenant. The lieutenant leads the sergeants but follows the captain. The captain leads the lieutenant but follows the major. The major leads the captain but follows the colonel. The colonel leads the major but follows the general, etc.

The Sunday School teacher leads the class but follows the superintendent. The superintendent leads the teacher but follows the pastor. To expect followship for his leadership, the leader must present followship to his leadership. If I expect my followers to follow me, then I must follow those who lead me. Then whom is the general to follow? He is to follow the Heavenly Father. Here each of us becomes a follower. The writers have said, "Where Ever He Leads I'll Go," "Where He Leads Me I Will Follow," "Have Thine Own Way, Lord, Have Thine Own Way," "All the Way My Saviour Leads Me," and "He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought, O Paths with Heavenly Comfort Wrought." To be a successful leader, one must be a successful follower.

7. It is wise for the leader to identify himself with the followers. When Ezekiel was going to preach to the Jews in captivity he said, "I sat where they sat." In other words, he went to the seat of the follower and sat there. Having learned the heart and the feeling of the follower, he now is a more capable leader. One of the things that I have done for years in my church is to go through a little mental calisthenics when I walk out on the platform. I try to look at the people and feel what they feel. For a moment I sit in their seats. This is especially true in a funeral service. The leader must feel the heartbeat of the follower and must know what it is to sit where he sits.

8. A leader should list the times and means of success. There is a reason for success. It comes as a direct result of the proper ingredients. When a leader (or anyone for that matter succeeds, he should immediately write down the formula that he used. This would even apply to followers. When a follower pleases his superior, he should write down the ingredients used so as to use them again and again.

9. The leader must spend much time with the Saviour. I will never forget the day in my life when I realized that I would never have a pastor again. For nearly a quarter of a century I have had no pastor. Hence, I have had to spend much time with the Lord. No one can be a successful leader who does not walk with God. Since there is followship in each of us and a need for security in the strongest of us, the one who has few or no earthly leaders must know intimately the One Who is the Leader of us all.

Oftentimes young preachers ask me what advice would supersede every other advice that I would give to a young preacher. Immediately I answer, "Walk with God."


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 “I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has
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