Men have a natural instinct to lead. We want to lead our families, teams, and individuals. We want to take on the biggest things life has to offer: raising other men, fighting our pride to become one with our bride, and getting up over and over again as we learn how to navigate through. We are up for the challenge and we have what it takes, but there is one problem: We are just a branch, yet we are trying to be a vine for others.
In John 15:4, Jesus teaches us this:
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
With that said, here are three things a man needs to lead fruitfully.
1. We should be connected to the vine.
Jesus didn’t say that we could not lead. He did say that if we are to be fruitful, we have to be connected to the vine. We have to be connected to God. It’s easy for Christians to just write a comment like this off as “yeah, yeah, of course. Got it.” But this is not just a religious practice that we should pass over because we have heard it a lot or because we feel like we should get it. We can’t pretend to understand something just to say we get it if in our hearts we do not. God wants you to be truly effective, not just have the appearance of. There are people that this statement doesn’t make sense to and our writing it off cuts an opportunity to share at the root. Who knows if it will be planted again. We need to ask “what does it actually mean to be ‘connected to the vine’?” It looks different for everyone but this underlying theme is present for all of us: God rewards curiosity to be closer to Him. Being connected to the vine means knowing where your help comes from and coming back to that source over and over again in whatever you are doing. By doing this, we acknowledge that we cannot lead alone. We submit to God by accepting we are not our own source. This causes a production-like visual of reaching to your left and then giving that to your right. We are a branch, but through pruning we can produce fruit. Jesus taught us in John 14:12 that we would do greater things. He wanted us to produce as we saw Him do. It is God’s design that we would produce as He produces but we cannot produce from ourselves alone. If we are not spoken into, we cannot fruitfully speak into others.
2. We should be accepted.
As men taking on lead roles, we need to connect to the source and then make our leading decisions from there. At that point, we need to be accepted. Our decisions should be accepted by our family and friends. This gives us a boost of confidence to carry out the assignment at hand knowing our vital people are behind us. Isaiah 32:17 says, “The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.” As people, we are easily swayed by our support system. If we aren’t accepted by those closest to us, we can actually lose our connection with a God-given direction. Make sure you share your vision with your support system just as you would to onboard your team with a direction. Understand the importance of acceptance and having people behind you so that you can draw from those people as needed. If you are receiving opposition from your vital circle, you may need to get back in prayer to see if your direction from God was clearly understood. If you are a family member opposing a good direction, you may need to check your own needs and determine if the source of your needs is in proper alignment.
3. We should be encouraged..constantly. Once accepted, we need encouragement to carry on when things get tough. In our intrinsic quest to take on the biggest challenges in life, we must be constantly supported. If we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that a lead role in any capacity is scary without the right support. Am I choosing the right place to raise our family? Did I set the best value system for my team’s culture? Did I word that lesson to my son the right way? Did I present Jesus the way He should be? Notice how everything is “did I.” The natural way of a man is to assume all responsibility. It isn’t bad, and there is a time and place for us to do this, but it is of a twisted sense of pride disguised as responsibility. God takes the lead on things and we follow that, but we again face the problem of being a branch, not the vine. We need support and encouragement. In our current house hunt, I’ve found it difficult to proceed without proper support. To lead fruitfully, we need to know where our support comes from and draw from it constantly. This means making our needs, our concerns, and our fears and faith known. Power and confidence is the ability to speak your heart, share where you are short, and accept support. This doesn’t come just from God. Others play a vital role in our lives. Draw from your spouse, your parents, your kids, your peers, your team, your dog, nothing is off limits when it comes to support as long as it maintains your direction. In Matthew 7:7, Jesus teaches us the principle that if we seek, we will find. If we knock, the door will be opened. If we ask, we shall receive. This can and should be applied to harnessing support for ourselves through God, and others as well.
The best leaders in the world may have one of a kind talents, but more than that, they know these things: They know their source, they are accepted, and they have support. People can only go far themselves with these things. If people can’t go far themselves, they can’t take others with them.
As men and leaders, I encourage you to get connected in these three things. Bite down and start chomping away. If you have a lot to do, break it out in smaller parts so you can be encouraged by visual progress. As a support system, be aware that you are that, and challenge yourself to cater to the leaders you are holding up. Tell them the hard things to say with loving intention, keep yourself connected so you can share sound advice and direction, and accept and support the right thing over the easy thing. You are loved.