Becoming a Life-Giving LeaderPublished October 10, 2018
As the president of Catalyst, Tyler Reagin oversees a leadership development organization that exists to unify and equip church leaders. In his new book, The Life-Giving Leader, Reagin shares from his own experience what it takes to become a leader who brings life to the people they lead.
WCA: What does it mean to be a life-giving leader?
TYLER REAGIN: Life-giving leaders choose to let life flow from them to those around them. When you have more concern about tasks than people, you end up requiring life from a those around you. The flow of life will be in the wrong direction. As believers in Jesus, we have the ultimate Life-Giver pouring into us, and how we choose to lead will show the overflow of Jesus in our lives.
WCA: In this book, you say how we lead affects people’s faith. Why do you believe that is?
REAGIN: I don’t know very many people who have walked away from Jesus because of Jesus. However, I do know many who have walked away from Jesus because of those who represent Him. We have a divine directive to lead in a way that brings life to those around us because we represent Jesus to the world. It doesn’t matter if you are the best communicator or preacher in the world if the words you say on Sunday don’t match your life on Monday. Our lives and our leadership must be integrated with the faith we believe.
WCA: You write, “As followers of Jesus and representatives of the Gospel, we have been given a divine direction to lead well.” How do we rise to this higher standard of leadership?
REAGIN: It starts with seeing every person as an image-bearer of God. We often say at Catalyst, “People are not an interruption to our day, they are our day. They are why we do what we do.” Leadership that puts others first is a higher standard of leadership. It speaks to the intrinsic value of each person and that they are worth our attention and best.
People are not an interruption to our day, they are our day. They are why we do what we do.
WCA: You write, “As leaders and team builders, we have to put leaders in positions that are life-giving for them.” How do you do that?
REAGIN: Jim Collins refers to this as getting your people in the right seats on the bus. You, as the leader, have a responsibility to know your team well enough to know the right seat for each person. Personality assessments like RightPath and Enneagram can help you determine the wiring of your team. Let’s be honest—there is no perfect job. That’s why we have to fight for each team member to have roles that are consistent with their God-given wiring. When this happens and you have an entire team firing on all cylinders, you will experience what very few experience—a healthy, high-performing, life-giving team!
WCA: The temptation to overwork seems to be a challenge—even for leaders who seek to be life-giving. How do you manage stress?
REAGIN: I’ll be honest. This chapter in the book is still one of the hardest for me in my own life. I remember hearing Dr. Sam Chand talk about stress. He said, “Stress will relieve itself one way or another. Either you choose how it releases (with hobbies, friendships, exercise, etc.) or it will choose.” When stress chooses, we lose. Healthy leaders realize that the hills and valleys of life will require us to have balance in our lives: boundaries, friendships, diet and other healthy patterns to survive the ups and downs without losing the battle.
WCA: Why is surrender such an essential quality for great leaders?
REAGIN: I remember hearing Bob Goff talk about a palms-up approach to life. It’s difficult to be defensive or control something when you posture your palms up. It’s a position of surrender. Surrender forces us to look past our own expectation and experience and choose to let go. Trust is hard, but critical. Trust in things unseen. Trust in giving up what I want in the moment for God’s plan. Life-giving leaders do this. They surrender to the bigger plan. God’s plan. God’s plan always includes what’s best for people.
Trust is hard, but critical. Trust in things unseen. Trust in giving up what I want in the moment for God’s plan.
WCA: You write that a life-giving leader leaves a legacy. What does that look like?
REAGIN: La Poudre Pass is a very small stream that starts in Northern Colorado. That little stream flows southward and is joined by many other streams and tributaries forming the amazing Colorado River. If that little stream was blocked or diverted inappropriately, we never would have had the legacy of the Grand Canyon. Our leadership journey always starts small. So the question is simple. Is life flowing from you as a leader? Or are you requiring life from those around you?
Let’s leave a God-sized legacy by leading from our truest selves and bringing life to others.
To learn more about becoming a Life-Giving Leader, check out Tyler Reagin’s book here.
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About the Author
Tyler Reagin is the president of Catalyst, a leadership development organization that exists to unify and equip leaders who love the Church through resources and experiential events. Through live events, weekly podcasts, digital resources, and a community-building app, the Catalyst team connects with over 100,000 leaders from around the world. Prior to Catalyst, Reagin served for 7 years under the leadership of Andy Stanley as the service programming director with North Point Ministries. He received his master of divinity from Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary and serves as a leadership coach for teams and organizations. He and his wife, Carrie, have two boys, Nate and Charlie.