Every leader faces tests. I know, not every leader enjoys them, but every leader grows because of them. Tests deepen our knowledge, expand our resolve and increase our faith. Pastoring for nearly 25 years has had its share of tests. Some I have passed. Others I have miserably failed at. But every leader must face tests. I have discovered 9 tests that every leader must face in order to not just endure their leadership, but enjoy it.
TEST OF ABSENCE
This is definitely one of the most challenging tests we face. How does the organization go when you are not present? No leader is present at everything. If they are, they are not a great leader. Ask yourself, "Does it survive when I am not present?" And "Are you okay if they can go on without you?"
TEST OF GIFTEDNESS
I think a lot of leaders only operate within their area of giftedness. They seldom get uncomfortable trying or doing something that stretches them. Sometimes the greatest test is whether or not you serve outside of your calling/gifts with as much passion or excellence as when you serve within your gifts.
TEST OF INCONVENIENCE
Life is never convenient. Nothing ever truly goes according to plan. Life, ministry, business or family is hardly done on our terms. Are you willing to be inconvenienced to do what you love? If you are not willing you are not passing the test. As a pastor, I know, all to well, that ministry is never convenient. The funeral, wedding, late night calls, early morning texts, broken hearts and sickness is never convenient, but I must do ministry regardless. I must pass the test of inconvenience.
TEST OF COMPARISON
This is the test every leader faces. It may be the most personally revealing. We all compare ourselves to someone. "If I was smart like __________. If I had the money that _________ has. If I had the talent that _________ had." The easiest way to figure out whether or not you are passing this test is by thinking about WHO YOU WANT TO BE LIKE. And then ask, "Am I imitating them more than Jesus?"
TEST OF CONTROL
It is no secret that I like to be in control. In fact, I believe that every leader does. But strong leaders know that control is an illusion. One of the great ways to grow as a leader is to start giving up control over certain things. Think about someone who can do what you do at least 60% as good and then let them do it. And don't take back control. Let them learn. If you have to be in control it is going to be hard to lead a growing organization.
TEST OF HUMILITY
I know that I struggle with this and people don't help. As a minister, it is easy for people to place you on their pedestal. That is the place where pride grows. Thankful for an incredible wife who makes sure my head is not too big for any doorway. But I must pass the test of humility. I must remain humble in success. Someone once said, "If you take credit for the success, you must also take responsibility for the failure." So true. That alone keeps me humble.
TEST OF PAIN
Every person every created feels pain. How do you process pain? What do you do to get through difficulty, attacks or challenges? Each of us have some function to deal with pain. Some are healthy and some are not. Let me ask you a deep question: "What, or who, causes you the greatest pain?" Until you answer that you will never pass this test. A great read: "Love Like You Have Never Been Hurt" by Jentezen Franklin.
TEST OF VISION
Have you ever had your eyes examined? Crazy process right? I know it is for me. "A or B?" "1 or 2?" And I often get confused. I start thinking to myself: "I am not sure if A was the right option." There is a lot of pressure because you are the one determining which lens is clearer. In leadership it is not different. You are, as the leader, making the decision on the clear direction you are setting. As a leader you must always ask yourself, "Can I see what others cannot?"
TEST OF TIMING
This is probably the hardest for me. Why? Because I am impatient. I want things my way, right away. Yet, God often has different plans than my own. He has a timing that is much more perfect than mine. I have this expression that I say all the time, "You must be patient in the process." To be honest, I say it to myself more than anyone else. Can I pass the test of timing by sticking it out for the long haul?
How are you facing your tests of leadership? All of us are works in progress, but the higher we go the more we must grow. I pray you pass the tests today because your leadership depends on it!