2020 - Year of Mission

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” -John 20:21

12 C’s of Leadership

As we will learn through this year, it takes brave and courageous leaders to understand, respond to and join God’s mission of loving and serving God, our communities, our co-workers in the faith, and ourselves.

In an effort to support our growth in understanding God’s mission and our growth as leaders, 12 spiritual leaders of this synod have written a devotion that can be used to begin meetings, Church Council or other gatherings, conversations with co-workers, teams and/or bible study groups. Each Devotion is based upon a story or verse found in this year’s Bible Book of the Year, Acts AND each devotion highlights a C-Characteristic which has been identified as essential for strong, responsive and effective leadership.

So, what does it take to be a leader? What are the characteristics that help a leader, especially in the church, to be a trustworthy servant of God? Since this is the year of mission, we are looking at Jesus as our teacher and guide, our rabbi, to determine those qualities to which we might aspire as a leader, and which might not only inform our personal mission to follow Jesus but those that also inform our leadership teams as we work together in and through the Kingdom ministry to which we have been called. As such, we have identified 12 Characteristics that are important for leadership. We call them the 12 C’s of Leadership and they fall in 3 categories – characteristics that reflect our relationship to and with God, characteristics that reflect our relationship with others, and the personal characteristics that are expressive of the way we lead and live our life.

We hope you will utilize this resource as you pray, work and build the teams, ministry and mission in your parish.



There are 12 Characteristics that are essential for leadership.  They fall into 3 categories – those that reflect our relationship to and with God, those that reflect our relationship with others, and the personal characteristics that are expressive of the way we lead and live our life.

Leaders embody and exhibit the following 12 Characteristics:

Characteristics that reflect a Leader’s relationship with God: 

1. Committed to Christ

  • Daily and regular prayer Life
  • Engagement with Sacred Scripture (not sermon prep)
  • Regular Worship (not while leading)
  • Tithes (or working toward the tithe)
  • Active in Service (within / outside church)

2. Centered (in God’s will)

  • Lives daily to follow Jesus• Continually works at centering oneself in God’s will and gets caught up in the mystery and grace of God
  • Sees Church as the ‘Body of Christ’ (for the sake of the world)
  • Family and friends are central relationships to experiencing God
  • Knows the world, near and far, is deeply loved by the Crucified and Risen Jesus

3. Called

  • Deeply believes God lives and works in and through us
  • Remains open, curious and attuned to what God is doing personally and with the community
  • Senses, hears and responds to God’s urging, voice, calling
  • Listens to the word of God and shares in the Lord’s supper
  • Is confident, through internal experience and the validation of others, that one has a part to play in the story of God’s love for the world

Characteristics that reflect a Leader’s relationship with Others:

4. Chemistry

  • Able to play well with others
  • Brings energy to the room
  • Surrounds self with great and gifted people
  • Emotionally Intelligent• Interacts well with others

5. Compassion

  • Watchful and attentive
  • Really sees others for who they are (Image of God)
  • Empathetic
  • Thoughtful, kind and responds to others’ needs
  • Aware of boundaries and keeps others safe

6. Connectedness

  • Connected to Jesus
  • Connected to Others
  • Connected to the Church
    • Locally (with colleagues – ELCA, ecumenical and/or ministerial association, service organizations; knows and is known by key community leaders)
    • Synodically (provides synodical leadership, invests time and money)
    • ELCA (Churchwide and the larger Church)
    • Global (Lutheran World Federation and companion Churches)

7. Creator of Community

  • Invites friends and strangers into conversation
  • Hospitable
  • Makes time and safe space for communication, conversation, and presence
  • Networks, makes connections and builds community with others (on many different levels)

Personal Characteristics of a Leader:

8. Character

  • Leads with Humility
  • Lives with Integrity
  • Cooperative and Intentional
  • Self-Motivated and Loyal
  • Has a Sense of Humor (able to laugh at self)
  • Curious

9. Capacity

  • Knows and shares one’s spiritual and ministerial gifts and talents
  • Spends intentional time in skill-building activities
  • Can identify, invest in and foster growth in others (teacher / coach)
  • Invests in self-growth (25% of professional time); reads, learns, grows; reads, learns, grows; reads, learns, grows

10. Courage

  • Acts bravely in difficult situations
  • Makes tough decisions to achieve the mission
  • Holds oneself and other people accountable• Challenges / disciplines difficult behavior
  • Holds high expectations and goes after what seems impossible• Is Relational and connected to other curious and courageous people

11. Catalyst

  • Inspires through communication / motivation
  • Promotes, facilitates and leads adaptive change
  • Challenges the norm for the sake of the Gospel mission
  • Stimulates dreaming and vision for the future
  • Strives for justice and peace

12. Competent

  • Capable, skilled and knowledgeable in areas of leadership and relating to others
  • Preaches and Teaches the Gospel (Lay or Ordained, knows how to share Jesus in words and actions)
  • Cares for self and others effectively
  • Leads a parish, team, group or community effectively
  • Serves all people, following the example of Jesus