Clarifying Your Mental Model of Leadership

The first factor in your Leadership Philosophy Map is called your Mental Model of leadership. Admittedly, Mental Model is a management lingo for “what good looks like” as a leader. A useful analogy might be your mental model of a nice looking lawn. When you think of a “attractive lawn”, what comes to mind? If you live in eastern half of the US, you’re likely to picture lush, green grass, attractive landscaping, no weeds, bare spots or crabgrass, richly mulched flower beds, etc. All these elements combine into a picture of what “good looks like” when it comes to lawns. It is your mental model of a lawn, a picture you carry in your head to use when you evaluate your own or someone else’s lawn. In comparison to the mental model of an ideal lawn, your own may need a lot of work. Without giving it much thought in making that determination, you’ve evaluated your lawn against the model to determine what to buy on your next trip to the garden center. But if you lived in the southeastern US, say in Phoenix, you’d have a much different mental model of a lawn. Garden centers are more likely to sell colored, decorative rocks than grass seed. So mental models of leadership are, in part, reflections of culture. Latin cultures, for instance, have different conceptions of what good leadership looks like than North American culture.

Jesus was very concerned that his disciples understood the difference between leading in the world and leading in the Kingdom of God, Luke 22:24-27. Worldly leadership, which is based on the flesh, has no place in the Kingdom, which is based upon the guidance and partnership with the indwelling Spirit. These are two conflicting mental models of leadership. God promises to bless the one and not the other, John 13:17.

There are two dominant metaphors for the role of the leader in Scripture, that of the servant and that of the shepherd. Over eighty percent of the time the English word “shepherd” is used in the context of a group or in a plural sense, the leader of the flock, the nation, the people of Israel, or the church. Interestingly, the English word “servant” is used in the singular sense, the servant of a master, of the gospel, of Christ, over 80% of the time. We can conclude that servants address the needs of individuals and shepherds address the needs of groups. Further, since leaders work with both individuals and with groups, the compound word servant-shepherd captures the mental model in Scripture for the role or work of a leader.

Application Questions:
1. How does your own mental model of a leader compare to that of Scripture?

2. Do the people you lead, your ministerial staff, for instance, have conflicting or similar mental models of leading?

3. Do the lay leaders who serve on your board have biblically-derived mental models of leadership or are they based upon worldly models?

What Is Your Leadership Philosophy?

What Is Your Leadership Philosophy?

And don’t say you don’t have one. Everyone has a leadership philosophy. It may be vague or ill-formed, but adults, especially working adults, have an opinion about what good leadership looks like. We are personally acquainted with leaders who have been “good bosses” or “bad bosses”. These judgments are based on two factors: our experience and our seemingly innate sense for what “good looks like” in bosses. Without this innate sense, we could not determine whether one boss is good and another is not. We would simply have no conceptual basis for making that judgment.

The Bible has a well-defined point of view about leadership. And it even provides the basis for determining the “good, the bad and the ugly” when it comes to leaders, any leaders, not just “church leaders.” Read More


I’ve started this blog in order to support those in one of the most challenging of all leadership roles – church pastors. They have been called by God, equipped to preach and hired into pastoral and ministry leadership positions. Yet most will say they have little to no formal training or practical experience in leading. This blog is dedicated to helping these pastors and ministry leaders.

The goal is to serve these servants of God by providing proven management tools, practical experience, organizational savvy and Godly wisdom in the context of a confidential coaching relationship. You’ve read the books, tried to apply the tips and follow the models but found that they don’t help much. Why? The answer is as obvious as it is challenging – your situation has intractable variables that are impossible for the books to specifically address. The multi-layered problems of church leadership involve as many issues of the heart as they do issues of leadership effectiveness. The two cannot be separated. Yet leaders in the Kingdom are called upon to sensitively handle both simultaneously. No other leader in business or industry has as daunting a challenge.

I know. For over 40 years, I’ve coached leaders in the Fortune 500 and in the church of 100 and I can testify that the leadership challenges facing pastors every day are more daunting. And the consequences are not merely measured in the current quarter’s profit and loss statement but have far reaching relational implications and eternal consequences.

My commitment to you is to bring the best of current leadership thinking and practical managerial tools but more importantly a biblically-informed perspective to leading God’s own people in God-glorifying, Christ-exemplifying ways as together we cooperate with the Spirit’s priority that all are to grow up into Christ. The leadership challenges pastors face everyday are the contexts He uses to perfect the saints, including the pastor.

If you are facing leadership challenges within your ministry team, within the church, or even within your own family, please let me know. You can be assured that you will not be given simplistic solutions or formulaic answers. On the contrary, we’ll pray together, laugh together, weep together and find a path forward that is as God-glorifying as it is spiritually formative for all involved. Here is my number – 203-426-2377.

A Biblical Framework for Leadership

The Key to Unlocking the bible’s point of view on leading

It is customary in recent books on biblical leadership to approach the sacred text as a source of enduring principles and moral guidelines for leading. Indeed there is a wealth of helpful insights for today’s leader in the ancient biblical record. One cannot help but gain valuable lessons for leading when gazing into the biblical mirror offered in the lives of Jesus, Paul, Moses, David and other ‘founding fathers” of the Christian faith. For sure, these books offer sound advice, even eternal wisdom, for leaders today. And their faithful emphasis on servant leadership as the paradigm for leading is outstanding. .

But is that all there is? The current genre of biblically based leadership books generally seeks to answer the question, “What lessons can leaders today glean from the examples and lives of biblical leaders long ago?” As instructive as these leadership lessons are, suppose there is actually a prescriptive model for leading in the Bible. While denigrating, neither the lessons learned from these books nor their authors, if we addressed the Scriptures with a different question, would we get a different answer? Refreshingly, the answer may well be “yes”. If the Bible does contain a definitive model for leaders in churches, mission agencies, and even in the business world, we all would do well to add it to our thinking and practice of leadership. Read More