Spending five days with the leaders of some of the largest churches in Canada surfaces a lot of success secrets. Fifteen of the leaders have over 35 years of ministry and marriage experience. They’ve soared when so many others have flamed out.

Here are 12 qualities I observed in them.

12 Qualities of Leaders Who Last

1. Leaders who last have spouses who love them and are the biggest fans of their leadership.

Ministry is taxing on marriages and families. Without a spouse’s supportive partnership, leaders flame out.

When Gary Kubiak was hired in 2015 to be the head coach of the NFL Denver Broncos, he made a point of lauding his wife, Rhonda for her support. “…this business, without a great family, is tough. For me to go out and chase my dreams, Rhonda is always letting me do that. It’s a tough business, a lot of hours, a lot of work. She’s always kept it under control and said, ‘Go get after it.’ So we’re going to get after it again here.”

Pastors and coaches have a lot in common. Spouses who “go after it” with their pastor partners are the biggest factor in leadership longevity.

Stop right here. Do something unexpectedly kind for your spouse to say thanks for his or her support.

2. Leaders who last, age in place without becoming archaic.

Pastors can be in the same church for over 20 years and remain vital. The key is that they haven’t had a one-year-experience twenty times. They re-invented themselves through their time of ministry because they are continuous learners.

3. Leaders who last know its always too soon to quit.

Every honest leader will tell you they’ve experienced the ever present temptation to quit. Durable leaders refuse to quit in order to finish well. The difference between quitting and finishing is always a character issue.

4. Leaders who last are life long learners.

Healthy leaders stay current with the latest leadership book releases, blogs, podcasts and periodicals. They have a voracious appetite for reading.

5. Leaders who last are consistent and flexible.

Resilient and nimble organizations are led by people with proven dependability. Durability creates dependability and stability, which are the foundation of flexibility. Significant course corrections are best navigated with a seasoned pilot at the helm because ministry advances at the speed of trust. Massive organizations can make major changes because of durable leadership.

6. Leaders who last, laugh and they leave the people they lead, laughing.

A sense of humor is indispensable when leading people through un-fun moments in their lives.

7. Leaders who last honor the successes of the past and launch bold new initiatives.

8. Leaders who last may not be known as innovators but succeed at adapting and adopting the innovations of others.

Smart leaders selectively apply the proven strategies, systems and structures of others.

9. Leaders who last have a self-sustaining passion for what they do.

They are internally motivated and know how to encourage themselves.

10. Leaders who last recognize that there are seasons of ministry.

Ministry seasons are not sequential. After a summer of seeding, the anticipation of a harvest season may be lost to an unexpected blizzard of wintry conflict. But winter is not forever. There will always be the spring of new seasons of God’s favour. With the Lord, there is always a “next year” to follow a season of disappointments.

11. Leaders who last are seldom the smartest person in the room.

Wise leaders rely on the proven wisdom of consultants, mentors and seasoned veterans. Durable leaders seek counsel. They ask lots of questions. They know who can get them the answers or where to find the answers they need.

12. Leaders who last ask the right questions to achieve their big picture goals.

Good leadership questions are, “What do I want to accomplish in the next 30 days?” AND “Who do I want to become in the next season of my life?” The answers to both questions are required to lead well and long.

APPLICATION: Where are you in your leadership journey? Please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

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Bob Jones

Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 41 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring others through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, reading, and ball hockey. I'm a fan of the Esks, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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