Think back to a great teacher you had in your life. It is likely this person did more than pass information about a particular subject on to you. He or she influenced you in some powerful way, challenging you to believe something valuable about yourself and achieve something worthwhile with your life. It’s true—great teachers lead. But great leaders also teach!
Anyone who holds influence over a body of people must possess the communicative skill of teaching others. People in our churches and organizations need encouragement, inspiration, equipping, comfort, vision, hope, and sometimes reprimand. The leader as teacher simply means that a leader must have the ability to identify the needs of his or her people and then communicate effectively to address those needs in spoken and/or written form. Being a great leader-teacher means:
· Organizing: Planning your thoughts, keeping your communication focused on the need(s) of your hearers, and then structuring your presentation in a logical, sense-making way. This is true for a speech, a sermon, or any written communiqué.
· Storytelling: Great stories illustrate and inspire. This portion of communication is often overlooked, and leader-teachers don’t spend nearly enough time developing this important tool. Storytelling separates a good teacher from a great one and allows the one teaching not only to inform hearers, but to influence them in powerful ways. Just look at the many parables that Jesus told.
· Excellence in delivery: Great leader-teachers deliver their material with distinction and quality. Some leaders are natural at this. They speak well publically and present material in such a way that people “get it.” Others must be trained and committed to improving. Either way, leaders who are unsure of their message, disorganized in thought, and/or missing a good flow and structure in their communications will lack potency in the messages they seek to send to followers.
Jesus taught in organized and sense-making ways, used powerful and insightful stories to illustrate truth, and delivered his teachings with distinction and quality. These communication skills allowed him to powerfully influence others, not merely pass data on to them. Upon completion of Jesus’s first public teaching moment, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew described his Lord as leader-teacher in this way: “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28–29).
The greatest plans and purposes of ministry cannot be achieved if they are not communicated clearly and compellingly. What a leader says and how he or she says it are powerful tools to bring life, inspiration, unity, and direction. Want to be effective as a leader? Learn how to be a teacher.