Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist, Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
Are you guilty of starting a project and not finishing it? You might have great intentions and enthusiasm in the beginning, but somewhere in the process you become bored, distracted, or uninspired to finish. I can point the finger at myself—especially because I started this blog several days ago and forgot to save the document on my computer. I’ve searched to find what I started—and almost completed—and yet it has vanished into the black hole of unsaved documents in cyberspace.
Finishing is a goal leaders should strive for, but finishing well is completely different. In today’s culture, many leaders finish—but finishing may more closely resemble a NASCAR race gone badly. Often the leader crashes and leaves a path of destruction and damaged relationships for others to clean up. Whether it’s an issue of integrity or morality, I don’t want to emulate that kind of leadership. Instead, I want to finish my leadership race with humility and character. In fact, I’d like to finish in a way similar to the apostle John. John lived longer than any of the disciples and spent some of his final years exiled on the island of Patmos, where he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to record the Book of Revelation. Most church leaders believe John was released from Patmos and spent his final years in Ephesus. He was fully aware of the martyrdom of the other disciples, and yet he chose to finish the race God had set before him. John is an inspiration and role model for you and me to finish well. Here are three things I’ve learned from the beloved disciple and desire to implement in my personal leadership journey. I hope you do too.
- Finishing well is not the same as finishing lukewarm.
If you’ve been leading for several years or you’re not as passionate about your leadership assignment as you once were, consider the Lord’s admonition to the church of Laodicea as recorded by John in Revelation 3. The church was known for neither being hot or cold—they were lukewarm. Scripture vividly describes how the Lord feels about this kind of leadership when He says in verse 16, “I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.” Instead, if you want to finish well, look for ways to continue leading with passion and purpose. If you feel stuck, find someone who can encourage or mentor you. Leaders who finish well surround themselves with others who challenge and inspire them. Leaders who finish well understand the importance of having a vital and growing relationship with the Lord. Following Christ is an exciting adventure that should last until our final breath.
- Leaders who finish well demonstrate a lifetime of loving others and evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.
Some church traditions record that in John’s latter years he was carried to church in the arms of his disciples. At these meetings, it is told he often said no more than, “Little children, love one another.” Whether this account is true or not, John recorded a similar phrase in 1 John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” John knew a leader who finishes well is a leader characterized by his or her love for others. As you continue to run your race as a leader, does your love for others grow over time? Does your leadership reflect joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? All of us should strive to finish with humility and focus on others.
- Finally, a leader who finishes well understands the importance of leaving a legacy and investing in the future.
The story of King Hezekiah is recorded in 2 Kings. Becoming king of Judah at the age of 25, he reigned for 29 years and was considered a leader who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Yet, in his final days, Hezekiah became ill and foolish, setting up the future captivity of God’s people in Babylon. In his selfishness, Hezekiah says in 2 Kings 20:19, “Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good,’ for he thought: Why not, if there will be peace and security during my lifetime?” Unlike Hezekiah, who only wanted good to come during his lifetime, John was obedient to God’s call until the end of his life. His letters and the Book of Revelation are inspired words of God that had value during his lifetime and will continue to have value for eternity. While you won’t be asked to pen pages of Scripture, as a leader you will be challenged to invest in the next generation. Leaders should care about the deposits they make—not in their bank accounts, but in the lives of others. As Nelson Henderson once said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
Are you ready to lead well? Sign up for the ministry to women newsletter to get monthly content specifically for leaders here. Get training at events like YOU Lead around the country and Women’s Leadership Forum this November in Nashville, TN.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in-law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.
Want to read more from Kelly? You can purchase her new book, Ministry to Women, here!