Leadership Synchroblog: Good Leaders Know Why

This week I am taking part in Evangelical Seminary’s Leadership Synchroblog event that is being conducted in support of their Master of Arts in Christian Leadership program. Contributors were asked to answer the question “what makes a good leader?”

Twelve years ago I had the opportunity to be a small part of a team that was doing incredible things for the Kingdom of God. We were seeing lives change, relationships restored, and people making decisions to do things on behalf of their God that the world around them just didn’t understand. We were part of a rapidly growing church just outside of Atlanta, and it was an incredible season of ministry.

It was during this season of ministry that I learned the importance of a short little word that separates positional leaders from true leaders:


The difference between a positional leader, and a true leader is that they know why they do what they do… and actively communicate it to those that they lead. At the Leadership Summit, Patrick Lencioni shared the story of a Southwest Airlines gate agent with whom he struck up a conversation in the days when seating was first come, first served. After an hour or two of sitting on the floor waiting for the plain to board, he asked her “why aren’t there any seats here that I could sit on while I’m waiting to board?” Without hesitating, she responded by saying “because we are all about low fares… and if we bought seats, you’d have to pay more for your ticket.”

Let that conversation sink in for a minute…

If someone unfamiliar with your church asked you to why your service is designed the way it is… how would you answer them?

While I was in Atlanta, we operated a little unconventionally… but we knew why we operated that way. Not only did those of us in ministry leadership understand why we operated the way we did, but we worked to ensure that everyone on our team, and in our congregation, knew what it was we were setting out to do.

As a leader you must know why your church exists, and why it operates the way it does.
To lead well, you must be able to communicate why to those you are leading.

Do YOUR greeters know why YOUR service is designed the way it is?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Lisa Colón DeLay

    I think you’re right, Matt. There really something to be said about training others with a kind of missions statement that contains a thoughtful response to the “whys”!

    • Matt Steen

      I tend to believe that the person standing just inside the doors of your church has far more to do with whether visitors come back than your sermon does… so why do we let just anyone do that?

      Just sayin.

  • Lisa Bartelt

    That’s a great question at the end. I wonder sometimes if people sitting in the pews know why things are the way they are or if they even care. Maybe there isn’t a good reason except “we’ve always done it that way” and then we can ask the next question about doing things differently: “why not?”

    • Matt Steen

      Thanks, Lisa!

      The whole “we’ve always done it that way” mentality drives me up the wall! If you are unable to answer why you do something… why are you doing it?

  • Pingback: Leadership Synchroblog: Good Leaders Set Culture -

  • Pingback: Leadership Synchroblog: Good Leaders Say No -