The Heart of a Discerning Leader – Part 3

The Heart of a Discerning Leader – Part 3

The examples of toxic leadership among Christians is on the rise. Most of them surround the concept of power – and it’s misuse. Every leader possesses power and authority at various levels, and the key to effective leadership is leveraging that power for the sake of others. When those a leader serves are thriving, then the power of a leader is fully activated. When others are held back or powered over or manipulated to the leader’s gain, then power is wielded inappropriately.

At LTI, we see this first hand with those we serve and come alongside to pour courage into their hearts. This is especially true for leaders, learners, and teams who have been discouraged by the abuse of power in their particular setting. How I wish we didn’t hear about such devastating experiences so frequently. It’s the undoing of ministry in the marketplace, the community, the country, and even the church. Our hearts are set on eradicating this evil disease that prevails today and therefore we offer the following five heart-felt attributes of a discerning leader:

11. Provides hospitable presence – for a leader to be fully present with those s/he is called to serve, the attentiveness offered will be directly proportional to one’s ability to listen sincerely and without judgment.

12. Deeply content and humble – offering freely and generously a non-anxious presence with others that emanates from a leader’s contentment about and within all of life’s circumstances, both the good and the hard.

13. Genuinely joyful and celebratory – sharing the joy of the Lord amidst the daily rhythms of everyday life and knows when it’s time to celebrate the gifts that God has entrusted to our care as we reflect the image of God.

14. Rooted in trust and rest – embracing Sabbath rhythms of abiding rest embedded within one’s work, and then trusting God to provide for all needs in surprising and delightful ways, and always for God’s glory and honor.

15. Generates peace and hope – as an agent of peace, discerning leaders understand the centrality of relationships and has the wherewithal to know how best to reconcile broken relationships with integrity and fortitude.

I trust that these reflections on the heart of a discerning leader will stir you to consider them for yourself. What invitation(s) are these observations evoking for you and how is God enlivening your own heart for service with and for others within your watch care? 

Check out The Discerning Leader Podcast this week for a fuller conversation with Jeremy Stefano about these 5 reflections. 

More insights to follow…

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.