Tom DeVries: Remember Your Leaders

Leaders influence followers. Great leaders also influence leaders.

Dr. Dave DeVries and Dr. Tom DeVries

One of the men who has influenced my leadership is my brother Dr. Tom DeVries. I have always looked up to him and appreciated so much of his influence on my life. Today, my mom forwarded me an article that he had written recently on leadership. Because of the impact it had on me, I share it with you…

Lifting Our Leadership
Who has had the most influence on you?

When you look back over the course of your life, who influenced you the most?

For many of us, we can name individuals who have impacted our lives positively – a parent, a pastor, a Sunday School teacher, a teacher in middle school, a coach, a friend. Our lives are different because someone cared and invested in us.

As I look back over my own life, my Dad had the greatest influence on me. Not only did he influence my growth and development, but I was able to watch how he influenced many other people as well; how he interacted with them, laughed with them, cared about them, called them to become more than they thought they could be on their own.

There was also Mrs. Sybrandy, my 4th grade Sunday School teacher, who showed me what a love for Jesus looked liked, and helped me love God’s Word and grow in my own knowledge of it. There was Mr. Hild, my 11th and 12th grade English teacher, who had previously been on staff with Campus Crusade, and in college we met weekly for almost a year walking verse-by-verse and chapter by chapter through the pastoral epistles, helping to prepare me to become a young pastor. There was Rev. Chet Droog, who as the regional executive for the RCA Far West region called Laura and I to plant a church in Moreno Valley and walked with us through that journey, believing in us, encouraging us, supporting us every step of the way.

Who has it been for you? We all have leaders who influenced our growth, development, and our own leadership. The writer of Hebrews says this about leaders and leadership:
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, NIV)

We are to remember the Mrs. Sybrandy’s and Mr. Hild’s. We are to reflect on their leadership, their commitment to Christ, their own model of faith – and then we imitate it. We continue to let their leadership form our own faith and leadership.

This week, many of the RCA’s executive leadership team participated with me in the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. It was an opportunity to reflect and think about our leadership and examine areas for growth and development. I have participated in over a dozen of these events through the years – with staff from the churches I have pastored and with ministry colleagues. Leadership is critical, and growing in leadership is mandatory for church leaders. I’m grateful for leaders who go before us, who help us to improve our influencing, and live out God’s calling on our life to a greater degree.

This coming Monday and Tuesday, our executive leadership team will be spending time in retreat – evaluating this past year, gaining clarity for the year ahead, working on our resource allocation and budgeting, making decisions, doing what leaders do.

We will each bring the influence of others into our conversation. We will remember how they led, and how they modeled their faith. And my prayer is as we journey together, we will imitate the faithful leadership of those who influenced us.

Like Tom, I’m grateful for the leadership and influence our dad had on my life. Though he died when I was 17, his influence on me continues to this day. (Read some of my reflections on Rev. Ray DeVries.)

Think about the leaders who have influenced your life. Remember them. “We are to reflect on their leadership, their commitment to Christ, their own model of faith – and then we imitate it. We continue to let their leadership form our own faith and leadership.”

Tom suggests at the end of his article:

Think of 1 or 2 people who came to mind as you remember who influenced you. Spend some time offering thanks, and expressing gratitude to God for how they were a leader in your life. You may even want to send off a quick email or note of thanks for how they lived out their faith for your.

The Rev. Dr. Tom De Vries is the fifth general secretary of the Reformed Church in America installed at the 2011 General Synod. Immediately prior to becoming general secretary, he was lead pastor at Fair Haven Ministries in Hudsonville, Michigan.

Today’s Missional Challenge: Reflect on the godly leaders in your life. Thank God for them. Lead like them.

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Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
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