Maturity is about hitting stride.

Writers mature as they develop their voice, honor the reader, and deliver the goods. It’s not about complexity or creative energy. Such things are add-ons. Maturity is about being complete. It’s the essence of what was meant to be.

So — what does spiritual maturity look like? How is it distinct from the wisdom of age, experience, or influence? And how is it developed? If a woman in her twenties meets with a woman in her fifties, is the elder more mature? Or if three thirty-year-old guys are talking, are they identical in spiritual maturity?

As we train pastors and recruit leaders for churches, it’s important to focus on what makes a person right for the work, not just old or experienced enough for the job.

Seven Things I’ve Learned About Leadership from Captaining a Sailboat

(1) Know it all, but don’t do it all. Understand how everything works, ideally from experience. Study the charts, plot your course, avoid harm, and seek leverage. Intuit the boat so you can tease out its advantage. And read the elements like your native language. Then — use everything you know to wisely direct the work of others.

(2) Enjoy the rush but respect the elements. Know when to come back in.

(3) Your temperament sets the tone. Fearless in danger, focused in chaos, and purposeful in decisions. Learn to project courage and confidence whether or not you feel them. They are fuel to a crew.

(4) Listen to your crew, but be the captain. There’s wisdom in perspective, but it’s your job to decide. And never confuse camaraderie with favor. Captains marshall all assets for the good of the whole.

(5) Healthy and well can face any challenge. A highly disciplined and well-fed crew is a formidable force.

(6) Confront the majors; don’t sweat the minors. Work to create a self-healing culture. Most issues are self-correcting. But be swift to confront any threat that falls below the waterline.

(7) Learn from the adventures and disasters of others. Listen carefully, ask questions, and visualize scenarios. Vicarious learning is buried treasure. Be quick to dig.

Seven Things I’ve Learned About Leadership from a Review of the New Petraeus Book*

(1) Get the big ideas right.

(2) Communicate the big ideas.

(3) Oversee the implementation of the big ideas.

(4) Capture your best practices and lessons and cycle them back through the system to help refine your big ideas.

(5) Don’t be afraid to disregard rank when someone exhibits characteristics you value, such as brains, judgment, or a great work ethic. Tap into their strengths and solicit their careful thinking regardless of where they fall in the chain of command.

(6) Present yourself modestly, use humor, and show consideration for those around you.

(7) Mentor the next generation of leaders.

* Adapted from Max Boot’s review of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, by Paula Broadwell, with Vernon Loeb, in the January 21, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Seven Things I’ve Learned About Assumptions

(1) Assumptions are self-imposed barriers.

(2) You can tell an assumption by its generalized finality. We could never; There’s no way; That won’t fly; Wait till management gets wind of this; It’s the only thing we can do . . .

(3) Heeding assumptions is like making decisions based on rumors. Assumptions and rumors are cut from the same cloth. When an assumption surfaces, trace it to its source and verify it. If it’s true, it’s not an assumption. If it’s false, it’s blocking progress.

(4) When a viable idea is on the table, it should be decided on its own merit.

(5) Keep track of common assumptions. If the same assumptions regularly show up, write them down, solve them, document what’s true, and keep a copy at hand.

(6) To streamline “assumption resolution,” think through who is best suited to resolve each type. Options might include the CEO, the lawyer, the HR department, a consultant, and so on. For quick and easy assumptions, an email should suffice. Moderate examples might entail a phone call or meeting. Complex situations will need time for deliberation.

(7) Assumptions are often rooted in the past. Clearing them up is a good way to refresh and revitalize your company culture. Definitely worth the trouble.

Seven Things I’ve Learned About Leading a Worship Team

(1) Joy and energy are infectious. If you have a great time, others will too.

(2) The point is effectiveness, not efficiency. Less than smooth is okay. Worship is human, not mechanical.

(3) Let people operate in their giftedness. A world-class pianist shouldn’t be put on the bass. The effect is better when the expression is strong.

(4) Stress doesn’t help. Get as ready as you can and deliver the goods. Pulling your hair out never helps.

(5) It’s okay to make a mistake if you’re trying. Don’t wing it, but don’t sweat it either. People will forgive you for making errors.

(6) Worship is about God. Don’t go for flashy or showy. Point the glory His way.

(7) Leading is following. Sometimes the best way to lead is to let others have the voice.

Posted by Contributing Editor: Anneliese Rider