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How Moral Authority Makes Leaders Better

Source |  | By|ohn C. Maxwell

No Authority

I found myself asking that question in my first leadership job. Just a few weeks out of college, I became the pastor of a small rural church in the farming community of Hillham, Indiana. The word community almost makes it sound bigger than it really was: 11 houses, two gas stations, and a little country store.

It was a job I thought I could handle in an environment where I could learn the ropes. The church wasn’t big, it wasn’t in a city, and there were no titans of industry to deal with. I would be a medium fish in a small pond. The bylaws of the organization said that I was the leader of the congregation and the chairman of the organization’s board. I thought that made me a leader.

The first time I met with the board, I prepared for it. I thought about the vision and how I would articulate it. I thought about how I wanted the meeting to go, and I wrote a detailed agenda.

I knew that, as the chairman, I was supposed to open the meeting and run it. So after the introductions and greetings were finished and we were sitting around the table, I prepared to start. But before I could say or do anything, Claude, one of the board members, said, “Pastor, why don’t you open us in prayer?”

That’s a good idea, I thought, so I prayed.

I opened up the file folder with copies of my agenda in it and was about to hand them out, when Claude said, “There are a couple of things I think we ought to talk about tonight.”

Oh, I thought, okay. We can take care of those things first. Then we can get to my agenda.

Claude led the discussion and asked questions while the other men responded. I listened and tried to follow along. Most of the things they were dealing with were the kind of mundane, everyday items that need to be done in an organization, so there was nothing earth-shattering.

After about an hour, Claude said, “Well, that about does it. Pastor, why don’t you close us in prayer?”

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