Friday, September 30, 2005 | |

The Leadership Blog Interview: Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore

Bio: Tim is the Founder and president of "Growing Leaders" a non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders. He also serves as Vice President of Leadership Development, at EQUIP, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. John Maxwell. EQUIP's objective is to train one million Christian leaders around the globe by 2006, through conferences, training materials, books, DVD and technology.

Tim has authored numerous books, including Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child, Soul Provider and Pivotal Praying from Thomas Nelson Publishers, and a series of books with Lifeway Publishers that includes: Authentic Influence-Leading Without Titles, Wired for Influence-Skills to Lead Others, Intentional Influence-Investing Your Life Through Mentoring, and Leveraging Your Influence-Impacting Your Campus for Christ.


The Leadership Blog Interview Questions
1. Tim, what gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Tim: "There's no question my greatest joy comes from watching someone respond to a challenge and step up to meet it. Whether it is teaching a student at a conference having a divine "aha" moment or observing a team member in our organization seize the moment and take a risk to lead, it's always fun to see the light bulb go on, and to see someone realize they can, indeed, accomplish something significant. In short, my greatest joy comes when someone recognizes they can lead and influence others with their life; that they can multiply what God has placed inside of them. This past week, I was speaking at a university. I taught some of our "Habitudes" (Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes.) I shared a Habitude called: "Rivers and Floods." It illustrates how so many young leaders begin as rivers with their vision and focus...then become floods, attempting to do everything. They do more damage than good. A student ran up to me afterward and said: "This principle explains the dilemma I am in. I plan to cut back on the stuff I am doing, and focus myself this year on what counts." Those conversations...are rewarding to me.

2. What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Tim: "Indifference. I travel to dozens of schools and churches every year, speaking to about 50,000 young leaders annually. I cannot stand it when I get to an environment that expects little from anyone, and fosters apathy from the students or members of the church. Passion should exist in every Christ-follower, even if it is quiet passion. A fire should be burning inside of everyone of us to serve in the area of our gifts. This is what makes me want to take a whip (as Jesus did) and throw the money changers out of the Temple. We've diluted the calling young people have on their lives and become satisfied with mediocrity; stopping halfway. The term "mediocre" comes from mountain climbers. It literally means "middle of the rock." It illustrated a climber who began his climb to the top of a mountain and decided to simply stop halfway and be satisfied."

3. Who made the biggest influence in your life as a leader?
Tim: "I had an early mentor named Shawn Mitchell, when I was 17 years old. Shawn launched a ministry called "Friday Faith and Film." We would show a movie each Friday night to high school students and Shawn would speak after it on a relevant issue that the movie had addressed. My job, as a high school junior, was to pray for him and hold his coat. One Friday night, Shaw approached me and with a scratchy voice said he wouldn't be able to speak that night. He pushed me to go on that night and speak for the first time in public. After that night, Shawn affirmed me and said: "From now on, I will speak one week and you'll be on the next week. We will rotate." And I have speaking and leading on a regular basis ever since then...thanks to that mentor. The amusing part of this story occurred just a few years back. Shawn and I met for a reunion and reminisced about "Friday Faith and Film" As we recalled my first speaking experience, Shawn said, "I have a confession to make. I didn't really have laryngitis that night. But I knew the only way I could get you up to speak was if I was unable to do so. I saw something in you and I wanted to fan it into flame."

Another mentor has been Dr. John Maxwell. I have been working alongside of John since 1983. I worked as an associate pastor and then as a writer of curriculum and director of next generation leaders at EQUIP. John was instrumental in my launching "Growing Leaders", our non-profit organization targeting emerging leaders--students and those who work with students. He has been a fabulous cheerleader for me.

4. What books have changed your life?
Tim: "There have been a number of books that have shaped me as a leader and as a Christ follower. Some of them have been:

1. Your God is Too Safe, by Mark Buchanan
2. Leadership and Self Deception, by the Arbinger Institute
3. Certain Trumpets, by Garry Wills
4. The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell
5. Good to Great, by Jim Collins
6. Developing the Leader Within You, by John Maxwell
7. The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman

5. What's your biggest challenge as a leader?
Tim: "My greatest challenge lies in partnering with schools and churches and organizations--helping them to set organic goals instead of merely programmatic goals. For example, instead of merely setting the goal of getting five new leaders for next year, we recommend a school nurture a leadership culture, where every student is contagiously affected to think and act like a servant-leader. We want to help organizations create a leadership culture not just fill a few new positions each year. But its hard to get organizations to see past the immediate needs they have. A culture affects everyone living in it. And we think the world needs more "laborers" in the harvest, not just more followers. That's why Jesus talked about leadership in His early call on His disciples: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)."

6. What goals do you have as a leader?
Tim: "Our most popular resource is: "Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes." It is very post-modern yet very biblical. Our hope is to create a four book series on Habitudes to be used in mentoring communities on school campuses, in churches and campus ministries. We teach timeless leadership truths using images (pictures) and now have teaching kits for deans, campus workers and pastors. Our goal is to see leadership mentoring communities on every campus in the U.S. This next year, we plan to establish bases internationally. We are now working in several countries in Asia, Europe Africa and Latin America. We'd love to play a key role in equipping this next generation to finish the task of reaching the world for Christ.

7. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Tim: "Mentoring key emerging leaders and staff to carry on the work. I want to continue writing and mentoring more than anything else. I love to create, to communicate and to coach. This is were my fulfillment comes from."

Tim, Thanks for taking time for the interview. You shared some great insight. I love that, "mediocre" means "middle of the rock." Good stuff.