When Leadership is More Than Just Heart

The title might strike you strangely, but stick with me. I think you’ll understand.

Leadership does not come with time. It comes with training. Never stop increasing your skills: as a thinker, a problem solver, and as a communicator. Proverbs 22:29 reminds us of this fact: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.”

I noticed in 1 Chronicles 15:22 of the Old Testament, there was a man named Chenaniah. He was “the chief of the Levites”and he was “in charge of the singing; he gave instruction in singing because he was skillful.”

He was given the role of leadership not just because he was a loving person; it required more than just having a good heart and a fuzzy outlook. Chenaniah was skillful.

Now this does not discount the fact that he must have had a great heart. I believe that! I constantly preach about the need to keep our hearts right and to be motivated only out of love. I won’t back off of that reality. However, let me hasten to suggest that although Chenaniah had a good heart, he was also very skillful! That’s why he was in charge of the singers and could instruct others.

He could tune up the altos and brighten the tenors. He knew how to position the singers so the“crashing cymbals” didn’t deafen them. He insured that the delicate harps and lyres didn’t get drowned out by the “sounding trumpets.” Chenaniah knew how to deliver the kind of concert that memorable evenings are made of.

David, too, had both, didn’t he? Heart and skill, that is. It was said of David that he led the people“according to the integrity of his heart and guided them with his skillful hands.” (Psalm 78:72)

There it is again. Skill.

Skill is not just an add-on. It is a high calling.

Here’s the balance. We often think that if our hearts are good, it’s enough to excuse mediocrity in the skill department. If we have good intentions and pure hearts, then people should overlook our sketchy performances and our lack of leadership acuity.

May it never be!

When we hone our gifts, it honors God. He gives us gifts, but they are often delivered in potential form. We must develop them. When we sharpen our gifts and polish our skills, we honor the Giver. This applies to all gifts: music, leadership, parenting, counseling, the arts, and more!

Martin Luther once said, “A cobbler gives God the highest praise when he makes the finest pair of shoes.”

In Ecclesiastes 12, Solomon chimes in on our conversation about honing our skills. “In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher … pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs … sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.” He worked at his craft to sharpen every aspect of his calling.

If you are a communicator, listen to tapes of great speakers. Read books. Increase your vocabulary. Take every opportunity to teach. Practice and develop your gifts!

If you are a counselor, study the Word of God in depth. Ask God … no, beg Him for wisdom and insight. If you are a creative arts director, take the time to attend conferences and collaborate with others. Travel to see presentations: secular as well as religious. Redeem everything you can for the Gospel.

“How was the concert?” a person asked his friend after a church presentation. We have all heard the common reply, “Well … um … Let’s just say, their hearts were good.”

I know it sounds inconsistent, but leadership requires more than just having a good heart. It requires us to have in equal amounts, good skill!

Take a tip from Chenaniah. Hone your skills as a leader. Don’t ever use a “good heart” to excuse a lack of skills. We dishonor the value of a heart when we do. Instead, develop them both, and like Solomon, David, and Chenaniah, you’ll honor God with your skill, plus … you’ll give it beauty with your heart.

Now … let the music begin!

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