For instance, it would be incredibly inefficient for Dr. Sproul to meet every day with every team member at Ligonier Ministries to review that day’s to-do list. Instead, Dr. Sproul has given us a charge to proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God in all its fullness, depending on the Spirit to awaken as many people as possible to a biblical understanding of God’s character. Dr. Sproul does not look over each of our shoulders, making little course corrections as we go along. It’s better stewardship for each member of the organization to ask hard questions about each day’s to-do list in light of our true north statement, allowing us to correct our course to something bigger than ourselves.
Early on in the history of Ligonier Ministries, a consultant came to Dr. Sproul and asked what it was that people in the world and the church needed to hear. His answer: “They need to know who God is.” So as we approach fifty years of ministry in 2021, it is Dr. Sproul’s true north statement that provides clarity and perpetual motion in our mission to flood the culture with knowledgeable and articulate Christians.
A true north statement, however, can accomplish nothing in a vacuum. It likely would not surprise the readers of Tabletalk magazine to discover that I have found Dr. Sproul to be one of the most omnicompetent men I have ever known. Beyond his expert grasp of the Bible, he has led this ministry to ever-improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Wise leadership properly oriented toward a true north statement helps an organization of any size to stay on course. Dr. Sproul has created Ligonier Ministries to be such an organization, which allows us to offer something unique in the field of equipping Christian disciples around the world.
Why is greater than what, which is greater than how. Why we do something is far more important than what we do or how we do it. Teams animated by the why seldom stray off course for long. Petty disagreements disintegrate. Gossip ceases. Preening diminishes. Cynicism evaporates. They learn to say no to the good in order to pursue the best. This is where big-cause or “first principle” thinking translates to the daily grind of developing goals. We’ll typically overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what can be accomplished in five. Aim for the objective with quantifiable measures. Execute, evaluate, repeat.
Others-mindedness fuels the servant leader. Nothing energizes leaders more than seeing their colleagues live up to their full potential—personally, professionally, spiritually. An ax can be used to hammer a nail, but it will only be efficiently and effectively used when it is properly whetted and wielded to inflict crisp, penetrating blows onto the wood.
We can do far more together than apart, each contributing to a productivity equation that is 1+1=3 or more. Fruitful organizations are more than the sum of their parts. Leaders look for opportunities to celebrate the unique gifts of every team member. Leaders prepare others around them for when they themselves will no longer be leading.
Leadership is not arrival. We lead best when Jesus Christ leads us. The Lord is the leader and we must follow Him as He builds His church (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 2:9–10; 12:2). Trusting the Lord leads us away from trusting ourselves. He increases, we decrease. So it will be until the end of the age as the Great Commission is carried forward, generation to generation. Until then, let us lead to the glory of God.