My experience in life is that you get what you go for.
When a leader builds others through encouragement, they create a world of big-spirited, big-hearted people who in turn, lift their leader higher and help them soar. It’s true - the best leaders are encouraging leaders.
Encouraging leaders don't lead by intimidation or through forced allegiance to their authority. Instead, leaders must see the very best in other people and spur them onward and upward through an unwavering belief in the potential of those around them.
Here are a few qualities of encouraging leaders:
1. You are a DOOR OPENER
An encouraging leader knows when it is time to open new doors for those they lead, rather than keeping the door firmly shut and holding back opportunities.
The first thing my wife wanted people to feel as they walked into any Hillsong Church around the globe, was a genuine sense of welcome. So, a sign saying "Welcome Home" prominently greets everyone who walks through our doors. It's an intentional message that says, "Our doors are open".
In the same way, when entering a store if someone holds a door open for you - there's a kindness involved in that gesture that says, "Here, you go first". In other words, it's a display of humility. I think it can be so easy to believe that opening doors for others will lead to closed doors for you, but that’s never the way it works with God. God promotes the lives of those who promote the lives of others.
So, let's be leaders who:
- Open doors of ministry and opportunity for the gifted.
- Open doors of safety and security for the vulnerable.
- Open doors of warmth and value to the family.
- Open doors of welcome, love and acceptance to the stranger.
I want to live my whole life as a door opener.
2. You are a PLATFORM BUILDER
An encouraging leader recognises that their God-given platform is an opportunity to promote and enlarge the world of others.
By God's grace, the Hillsong platform has done exactly that for many of our guests and speakers whose own ministry platform has notably grown after their exposure through our Hillsong or Colour Conference platforms.
Everyone's platform extends well beyond the particular room they are in. The greater the influence God gives you, the higher your own platform becomes and the further your voice carries. I'm not necessarily just speaking about an actual or physical platform; rather, being a platform builder is about having an attitude and openness to use whatever influence you’ve been given to promote and increase others. As Matthew's gospel puts it - "To whom much is given, much is required."
3. You are a KING MAKER
An encouraging leader quickly sees the potential in others and uses their God-given authority to appoint those around them to new levels of authority. Like Moses in Exodus 18, who - under Jethro's instruction - appointed "able men" (described as "leaders of thousands, hundreds, and fifties and tens") to help share the burden and carry the load.
In my most recent blog on ‘10 Hallmarks of a Leader of Leaders’ I quoted from Psalm 45.16 "Instead of your fathers shall be your sons who YOU will make princes in the land." I am believing to raise up princes…both men and women who become ‘generals in the faith’. I want to be a king maker when it comes to advancing the lives of people, whilst always keeping it about the King of Kings.
4. You are a CEILING LIFTER
An encouraging leader is both a room-giver and a roof-lifter when it comes to their impact on others. A wise leader senses the right time to make the space for others to grow taller, and enlarge their capacity and their influence. The truth is though, you can never lift a ceiling that you can't reach yourself - your arms just aren't long enough! So, in order to raise other people's ceilings, your own life and leadership will require consistent stretching and growing. Building a team known for their loyalty and longevity means making constant provision for your people to grow in their leadership and flourish in their calling.
5. You are a BELIEF GIVER
An encouraging leader has others believing that "All things are possible, and nothing is impossible".
"Little boy, do you believe you can do this?
"Yes, I believe I can do this."
My wife was mesmerised by a simple movie called ‘Little Boy’, which is a feel good film about a young man’s mountain-moving faith. He believed he could do what others said was impossible.
Lack of belief can lock people in a jailhouse of intimidation and under-achievement. You can never be a belief giver unless you actually and genuinely believe in the potential that others have. When you live in a faith-filled, uplifting environment where encouragement is welcomed – it is easy to forget that many of those around you would never receive any encouragement if it weren't for you.
Encouragement in this world is rarer than you may think. So many people live in a negative and discouraging world where encouragement is a foreign language that no one has ever learned and no one ever speaks. Yet, a leader who genuinely believes in people and offers genuine encouragement will consistently be surrounded by people who would go to the ends of the earth for them.
6. You are a GIFT RELEASER
An encouraging leader is like a coach standing on the edge of the high-dive tower, talking an overwhelmed young diver through their routine and inspiring them to believe that they can nail it. If you are an encourager, you will enable people to flourish in their gift and help them to see that they actually really do have a unique set of gifts and talents, all their own. An encourager refuses to be threatened by the gifting’s of others and is therefore able to attract, and graced to lead, a team of highly gifted - high capacity people.
7. You are a VISION ENRICHER
An encouraging leader recognises that everyone has a right to live with a big vision. That right didn't stop with you and me. As a church pastor, I am grateful that so many people over the years have leaned into my vision for the local church and have tirelessly worked, owning the vision as their own, and have watched it become a reality.
However, being a big-spirited leader means that there are times to recognise the individual callings on the lives of others. Yes - some people will move on and plant, build, and grow something significant themselves; I believe that it is one of the great joys of leadership – the opportunity to play a part in seeing the vision of others become a reality. However, if you are a believer in people, the pathways you create for others within your own vision will mean that you will see a huge majority of people stay with you and loyally outwork that vision together.
8. You are a POTENTIAL SEER
An encouraging leader sees the giant possibilities that often lie dormant within the hearts of people who can't even see it within themselves. An encouraging leader looks to the future and sees the great things that God has in store.
If you can see what others can't and unearth the gold in people, you will have a tremendous advantage. You won't be constantly looking further afield to find the calibre of people you need alongside you, because you possess that uncanny knack of raising people from seeming obscurity, and to the surprise of many you will have the ability to release them into their divine destiny and calling.
9. You are an ENCOURAGEMENT SPEAKER
An encouraging leader is exactly that, an encourager. They speak words of life and see possibilities long before they notice the obstacles and hindrances. If you love to encourage, it may upset some whose own confession is laced with negativity, but you lift the spirits of many others and have them believing that anything is possible.
Encouragement: Lifts spirits, eases fear, relieves anxiety, speaks hope, breathes life, soothes pain and brings calm.
10. You are a DESTINY ENHANCER
An encouraging leader guides people toward their divine calling and purpose.
What a wonderful opportunity it is to know you have played a part in the life of someone who is living in their kingdom purpose and destiny. You saw what perhaps others couldn't, and now you have the joy of watching someone you influenced walk out the God-ordained life that is uniquely theirs.
Perhaps you opened a door or gave them a platform. Maybe you chose a “king” or placed them in a position to win. You lifted ceilings and even when it was hard to believe, you just kept believing in them. You recognised their gifts and unearthed the gold. You saw their potential and reinforced their vision, always with an encouraging arm around their shoulder, speaking words of affirmation and guidance. And because of that, you now have the great joy of seeing them walking into their destiny, their glorious future.
HOW GREAT ARE THE REWARDS OF ENCOURAGING LEADERSHIP!