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I have spent the last 40 years of my life studying leaders and leadership. My antenna is always up when I am around anyone in a leadership role. I watch them because I want to learn both the positive and the negative characteristics.

I have the privilege of connecting with great leaders from churches, youth ministries, youth organizations and businesses across the nation as well as globally. I have learned so much from so many people and am indebted to a plethora of men and women who have influenced my life.

Every now and then I realize I am in the presence of an exceptional leader as was the case this week. It was not by evaluating the “accepted criteria” for an “important” leader that I came to this conclusion.  Yes, he did meet the standard or should I say exceptional checklist:

  • Pastor of a large church (multiple thousands)
  • Large church staff
  • Nationally sought after speaker
  • Counselor to other Christian leaders
  • Holds and has held several key denominational positions
  • Writer
  • Board member for a couple of well-known organizations and colleges

But none of those things were the clincher for me.

No. What did it for me was the way he treated people and I don’t just mean those in leadership. I observed him as he:

  • Patiently talked to people even after speaking three hours the same morning.
  • Tenderly asked about a prayer request from a year ago.
  • Stopped to greet, meaningfully interact and then thank a secretary for her service.
  • Thanked a video technician for his time when he was actually the one who had given up his afternoon to help with our WOL project.
  • Asked a couple of guys for advice on how to handle a situation instead of trying to impress them with his vast knowledge.
  • After speaking, meeting, videoing and talking for over seven hours, thanked us for allowing him to be a part of the ministry.

I study leadership. And yesterday I had the privilege of being in the presence of an important leader who just doesn’t know it.  . . .  May his tribe increase!

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