The 2020 Vision Statement of Freedom to Lead:
In five years we will see 5000 storycentric leaders in 25 under-resourced countries
being transformed into competent Christ-centered leaders.
For the FTL Summer Blog Series, we have been unpacking our Vision Statement for the next five years. If you have missed any from this series, feel free to visit each one:
Today we are going to talk about the competency component.
When the summer months became too unbearable to continue with my long distance running, I decided to opt for the slightly “cooler” outdoor experience of the woods and the national parks. So, I joined a hiking club, eager to both be in community with other people and to put my boots to the ground and strengthen core muscles. I figured I could just apply the skills I had learned while long distance running to hiking hills and mountains. I would soon learn that despite the incredible grace these new friends extended, I was quite incompetent compared to many of my peers.
First were issues of figuring out how to balance the need to stay hydrated with the importance of not having too much weight on my back. Then it was a matter of finding the right kinds of shoes (note: dragging out a pair of hiking boots from your high school days some 20 years before may not be the wisest thing). I had to learn to manage crippling blisters and sunburns and insect bites. And if there was one thing I really could apply from my long distance running it was this: I still hated hills.
To increase my understanding of hiking, I also began to read travel books and memoirs from those who hiked the Appalachian Trail in the east and from those who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in the west. After all, only the best of the best can walk the AT and the PCT, and I wanted to learn from the best. I talked with friends who regularly hike mountains like Pike’s Peak or Mount Rainier as if it were a stroll through the meadow. I found myself comparing my (in)competence with their expertise. And I was falling short. Way short.
At what point, though, can someone say to me, “now, there’s a real hiker!”?
Do I need to hike a mountain at 14,000 feet to be considered a “real hiker”?
Do I need to get to the top of a hill without being completely out of breath to be considered a “real hiker”?
And what about leadership?
At what point do I become a “real” leader?
Defining Competent Leadership
Leadership is tricky. It’s tricky because if you ask ten people to give you a definition of leadership you’ll get ten different answers. We often hear stories of the frustration of having incompetent leaders in our own lives and begin defining “competency” as an anti-thesis to those people. Even more so if you ask, “How do we measure competency in a leader?” We all might use all the common words like “vision” and “processes” and “authority,” but we might be talking about very different things. We need to define our view of “competency” before we can even be on the same page.
We also need to learn from the best. We at Freedom to Lead International look to Jesus Christ as the standard bearer for competent leadership. We look not just at what Jesus taught, but also at how he lived his life and how he loved the people in his care. And while this sometimes feels like we’ve raised an impossibly high bar, we rely on his grace to help us get there.
More specifically, Freedom to Lead International has identified ten competencies of which we want to see our leaders grow. We develop these competencies in our leaders by interspersing them through the eight leadership development modules that we teach. We want our church and ministry leaders to:
- Cultivate character
- Model authentic relationships
- Inspire a shared vision
- Challenge people and processes
- Ensure a healthy ministry culture
- Facilitate effective communication
- Implement strategic planning
- Consider the individual
- Develop people
- Advance cooperative partnerships
Like in many areas of life, this is more than a mere check-off list. For most of us this is a life-long process. But, much like hiking a mountain we become stronger because of it.