4 Requirements for Successful Leadership Today

Lessons from alligator hunters are the same for pastors today who must embrace and be passionate about opportunities, take actions to produce results, and develop attitudes required for success. | by Dale O’Shields


In states like Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana, the once almost extinct alligator population nowadays needs annual thinning. It’s called alligator hunting season. It’s gotten more attention in recent years because of the popular History Channel series “Swamp People.”

Alligator hunting has rules. A certain number of “tags” are obtained by applicants prior to the season. When you bag an alligator, you tag them, until all your tags are gone. Tags are precious and highly sought. The more tags you obtain, the more alligators you can take, which ultimately helps improve your monetary status.

What does this have to do with life and ministry? Success in life and ministry involves:

  • Embracing your opportunities.
  • Being passionate about your opportunities.
  • Taking actions that produces results.
  • Developing the required attitudes for success.


Embrace Your Opportunities

The best alligator hunters want as many tags as possible. Tags represent opportunities. They want the tags because they believe they can bag an alligator for every tag they obtain. They are not looking for as few tags as possible. They are seeking as many tags as they can get. They have one opportunity each year to hunt alligators, and they want to make it count.

If you want to be effective in life and ministry, expect God to test your embrace of opportunities. If you’re always resisting or ignoring opportunities, you’ll never go far. If you’re an expert at making excuses for low performance, you’ll stay at the bottom of the heap.

However, if you’re a “give me another tag” kind of person, you’re on the right track. You’ll get somewhere in life and ministry if, and only if, you embrace opportunities, no matter how small or insignificant they may appear. 

Be Passionate About Your Opportunities

If you’ve watched the television show “Swamp People,” you saw a bunch of passionate people. Once they have their alligator tags, they head out into the bayous and backwaters, infested with various insects and intimidating critters, and go to work. They get up early. They stay at the task when the weather is hot and muggy, or when drenched with thunder storms. They are passionate about what they do.

It has always amazed me how little passion some people have for their work. It’s especially amazing to observe a lack of fervency in ministry. I can’t understand why working to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message that rescues people from an eternal hell and gives them a meaning life now, doesn’t incredibly excite and motivate people. This opportunity should make us pop out of bed each day with passion.

Through years of adding and training personnel, I have learned that passion is something I cannot train into a person. Skills can be trained. Attitudes can be learned. But passion has to be personally caught and personally sustained. No one else can give it to you. You have to catch it and keep it.

Take Actions That Produce Results

Alligator hunters not only have passion, they know how to catch alligators. They use some of the most unusual methods, along with putrid, rotten, noxious bait. (I could have used a lot of other words. You understand if you’ve watched the show.) But they get the job done.

Their goal every day of alligator season is to get dead gators into their boat. And you better believe they keep metrics — they count them. They know how many they bagged today, and how many more they need to bag tomorrow if they are going to use all their precious tags by the end of the season.

Great workers keep count. They measure progress. They set objective goals that indicate wins. They also establish strategies and take actions that are meaningful. They actually get things done.

When it comes to our work, we need to know how many “alligators” we need to bag each day to reach our goal, and how best to bag them. We should continue learning new “hunting” strategies and approaches, employ, test them and improve them. Getting the “alligators” into the boat is what it’s all about — getting the job done.

Develop the Required Attitudes for Success

“Swamp People” has a cast of characters with a lot of spirit. One thing for sure, you’ll never make it as an alligator hunter with good attitudes.

First, you have be positive — optimistic. You have to believe that catching alligators is possible, and that you’re going to get it done. Optimism is a part of faith. It’s a “can do” spirit, rather than a “can’t do” spirit.

Second, you have to be persistent. You’re “in it until you win it.” Short-term commitments don’t work when bagging alligators. You work until all the tags are gone. It’s a long-term commitment.

Thirdly, you must have endurance. Endurance and persistence are similar, but endurance is more personal. It’s the internal grit that gives you the ability to overcome the obstacles, rise up from the failures, and stay strong and encouraged over the long haul.

You’ve got to have the right attitudes if you’re going to be an alligator hunter.

It’s alligator season! What kind of hunter are you?

Get more great content like this delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe Now