In leadership development, we focus a lot on technique or on models of leading. We provide leaders with steps and strategies for leading. We give them helpful constructs in moving people from point A to point B. The focus is very much on the hands and the mouth—what to do and what to say.
We don’t, though, spend a lot of time talking about the what should be in the head and the heart—the manner in which a leader should lead.
There is a tidbit tucked away in Paul’s letter to the Romans that helps with this topic. The main theme of Romans is the core doctrines of the Christian faith. In chapter 12, there is an oft-cited passage about how followers of Christ should work together, each using the skills and gifts given them by God the Father. Paul provides seven specific examples, although this should not be construed as a definitive list of the only types of skills and gifts from God. (See Romans 12:3-8.)
One of those seven examples is leading and Paul says to lead with diligence or with zeal (depending on which translation you’re reading).
I can’t count the number of times I’ve read that passage. Hundreds at least. Maybe more than a thousand. I’ve coached many disciples of Christ in serving by being a good steward of these gifts and this is one of several go-to passages. So, as I said, I’ve been over this many, many times.
But I confess that I’ve never stopped and really considered what it means to lead with diligence or zeal.
Leaders should lead with diligence. With zeal.
What does that mean?
To answer that question, I find it very helpful to look at the language that Paul used when writing to the Romans. He wrote in Greek and the Greek word he used here is “spoo’-day.”
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon notes that this word comes from a related word for “speed” and connotes the idea of earnestness and carefulness.
Speed? What does it mean to lead with speed?
I remember once working with someone who, when given responsibility for a task, never seemed to grasp the idea of getting to it right away. He would get to the task when he felt like it or after being motivated by the harsh words of our frustrated boss. He wasn’t a leader because, among other issues, he had no spooday—no speed.
He wasn’t earnest in his responsibility and not careful to be responsible with the work entrusted to him.
Had he shown earnestness and care in his work, he might have been perceived as a leader and been given more responsibility.
The manner of good leaders is to get to it and with great care:
- Leaders are earnest and focused in getting the job done.
- Leaders take and intentional and careful with their responsibilities.
The next time you are given a new leadership responsibility, stop to consider your level of earnestness and care. Are you taking your responsibility seriously? Are you being careful—being a good steward of that responsibility for your more senior leaders?
Lead with diligence.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.