A Christians Voice from Fort Smith: Volume 1, Issue 2 – July & August 2012
“Heart of a Champion: Leadership”
Pat Williams is one of my favorite authors. In his inspiring and motivational book, The Heart of A Champion, Williams says,
“I believe God has put within each of us the capacity to accomplish far greater things than most of us can imagine. He has given each of us the ability to achieve greatness in some special area of life. I’ve learned that champions are not necessarily those who were born with special talents, intelligence, or beauty. They are ordinary men and women who achieved success in life because they worked hard to develop the gifts God gave them.”
Last month, in this column, I introduced the theme for the next several issues – character traits that typify the heart of a champion. The first trait I would like to examine is leadership. What is Leadership? What does the word mean? John C. Maxwell describes it this way, “What makes people want to follow a leader? Why do people reluctantly comply with one leader while passionately following another to the ends of the earth? What separates leadership theorists from successful leaders who lead effectively in the real world? The answer lies in the character qualities of the individual person.” (The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, p. ix) One of the quotes that Maxwell includes on the chapter introduction pages is from Bernard Montgomery, British Field Marshal who said, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”
I had the opportunity while living in the Kansas City area to do volunteer work at the Belton Freshman Center. At the time, the school was using a structured program produced by The Heart of A Champion Foundation. I am very impressed with the material produced by this non-profit youth leadership organization and have used some of their material as a basis for this series. Their stated mission is to seek “to transform culture by providing the necessary resources to educate motivate and empower students, teachers, families and groups in core principles essential to lifetime personal development and maximized performance.” As men who are charged by God to be the spiritual leaders of our families I think that this is a wonderful resource for developing the heart of a champion in our sons and daughters. I invite you to visit their website www.heartofachampion.org and check them out.
What is leadership? What does the word mean? With a little time spent in various dictionaries you will find that it includes, “to guide, to direct, to act as an authority, to exercise influence.” In the Heart of a Champion program workbook on leadership, they tell young people, “It’s time for your own personal commitment evaluation. Look over the items in the checklist and assess yourself and see what kind of leader you are. Most of the time, I …
- … place the needs of others above my own
- … know people are watching me to see how I respond in all situations
- … am a positive example to younger people
- … look for ways to serve my community.
- … look to give positive direction to my friends and in groups
“Look over your answers what do they tell you about your level of leadership?
“What makes a true leader? Is it power? Money? Title? Achievement? A great resume? A loud, commanding voice? Actually, none of these things makes a great leader. True leaders are leaders because people follow them. Why do others follow them? One reason: character. People do not commit to talent, they commit to character. Leaders are followed because they can be trusted to make wise decisions, and because they are looking out for the good of the group rather than themselves. True leaders are servants who lift up others to make them great, even at their own expense. They are men and women of influence who have chosen to use whatever position they have in society to affect others for good. These are leaders with the Heart Of A Champion.
“Showing the way is what it is about in a life of leadership, and every one of us is a leader to at least one other person, whether we realize it or not. So, SHOW THE WAY!”
Several true-life examples are used in the Heart of a Campion Character Development Program to teach leadership in various life circumstances. Then after a short video describing these champions, young people are asked a series of questions to draw out discussion and ensure reinforcement of the principles being taught. Consider …
Leadership In Crisis*
Dr. Sally Knox, a surgical oncologist at Baylor University Medical Center, is an example of leadership in Crisis. Dr. Knox has chosen to step into the gap for women suffering with breast cancer. She is one of the most successful breast cancer surgeons in the world. She founded The Bridge, a non-profit organization, in 1992 to help get treatment to financially disadvantaged women. This work has become her passion.
We live in a world today in which leaders of quality and character seem to be in short supply. We live in an age in which our world is full of crises: world hunger, AIDS, teen pregnancy, and teenage drinking to name a few. It is estimated that 30 million Americans do not know were there next meal is coming from. AIDS is a pandemic problem around the world. Recent studies have shown that the number 1 reason teenage girls in the U. S. visit a hospital is due to pregnancy. The leading killer of teenagers is automobile accidents, the majority of which involve alcohol. It has been said that each of us is either part of the problem or a part of the solution. What are we doing to help our sons and daughters to understand how they can you take action in their own schools or communities in one of these areas? Make a plan to make a difference and then show the way!
Leadership Among Those Younger*
Sylvester Croom is an example of leadership among those younger. He made history in 2004, when he was hired as the head football coach at Mississippi State University. He became the first African-American head football coach in the Southeastern Conference. But Croom made it clear that, as proud as he was of his heritage, he wanted to be seen not as a barrier-breaker, but a leader of young men. Croom’s players have great respect for him and know that his number one concern is for them and their welfare, above all else.
Everyone is a leader of some sort to those who are younger. There is always at least one pair of eyes watching you to see how you respond to your circumstances and to other people. What kind of deposit are you leaving in those who are watching you? SHOW THE WAY for those younger! We all have at least one person watching us, to learn what decisions should be made and to gain direction. Think of one person who either is now, or at one time was an example for you as to how you should live. Think of one person who was a model or mentor for you. Think about the characteristics that made this person a model leader for you. Now list the things you want to model for those younger to whom you are an example and a leader. Remember, little eyes are always watching you. Someone is looking to you to show them how they should live. What will you demonstrate to them? Will you be the same kind of leader for them as someone once was for you? You can be a mentor. You can show the way.
Leadership Among Groups & Peers*
Derrick Brooks is an example of leadership among groups & peers. He has been one of the best linebackers in football since he entered the NFL in 1995. His passionate play and leadership ability have earned him the respect of teammates and opponents alike. His leadership, both on and off the field, was instrumental in turning around a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and leading them to a Super Bowl championship.
How do your peers see you? Do you influence the people around you or do they influence you? Real leaders understand that every person is a valuable part of the group or team they lead. They don’t take advantage of their position or power. How will you make those in your group sense their unique value? How will you demonstrate the character that will be required for each member? How will you motivate them to give their best? How will you SHOW THE WAY?
Leadership In Civic Life*
Sam Johnson is an example of leadership in Civic Life. Sam Johnson Johnson served in Vietnam and became a prisoner of war. He now serves as a United States congressman from Texas. Like many POWs, Sam Johnson came home grateful for the opportunity to serve his country and continued to do so in many ways.
What qualities do you think enabled Sam to survive as a POW and also have made him an effective leader? What are the most important leadership traits Sam demonstrates? What do you think are the most important aspects of leading when you are in a highly visible position? Think About It! It’s easy to be a follower. But when we follow others, we had better be sure they know where they are going… and many leaders today do not…. In your community or in a part of your world, make a commitment to SHOW THE WAY!
“Great leaders become such because they have a heart to serve… The essence of leading is serving… Imagine for a moment you are a candidate for president of the United States….What would qualify you to lead the nation? What would be your platform for the next four years and beyond for the country? Think about the speech you would give on national television in which you will tell the American people why you are the ideal leader for the nation at this time in history.
Remember, great leaders are those who are committed to serving others. What can you do to make an impact on the civic life of your community or the nation? The only thing that can stop you from leading out in these areas is you. So step out and show the way!
Conclusion: Bringing It Home
Think about what it takes to be a leader in crisis, among those younger, among groups, and in civic life. From what you know about leadership from the examples we have studied above,how you can show others the way? What action will you take to demonstrate the heart of a champion by being a strong leader in your family, among your friends and family, in your relationship with your boss, and in your relationships in the local congregation?
Thanks for reading with me men. My prayer for each of you is a strong spiritual influence in your family. The strength of our families and of our nation depends upon your strong spiritual leadership! As Steve Farrar says in the conclusion of his excellent book, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family, “It’s a Herculean task to lead a family, but with the power of God supporting you, it is a tremendous privilege. If we are willing to become the point man in our families, we can count on God’s support and power. He’s looking for men who will follow Jesus Christ and burn their ships behind them. When He finds those men, He will take extraordinary measures to buttress, bolster, and carry them along in His limitless strength. ‘The eyes of the Lord moves to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His (2 Chronicle 16:9, NASB). May we be those men! And may He give us strength to withstand the onslaught of His blessing.”
(*Note: The material above is adapted from and used by permission of Heart A Champion Foundation)