Skip to content

ICE Leadership by Dustin Manis

ICE Leadership Defines Core Character Competencies of a Christian Leader

I have learned a lot about the difference ‘ICE’ makes in a Christian leader! I trust today you will, too!

We must be respected the most by those who know us the best.

That is a profound statement. I don’t remember where I read it or who said it, but I know I’ve said it many times in the years since.

Those who spend the most time with you, the ones that get the front-row seat to your life, what do they really think of you? And when they do, would respect be near the top of the list?

Ad Nauseum Qualities of Leadership

When one of my sons, Jack, was a boy, he thought that being a leader meant that you get to tell everyone what to do. If Jack visited my office, he liked to sit at my desk, pick up the phone, and pretend to tell people to bring him things. Jack is the youngest of four, so being in charge of anything was fascinating to him.

If you haven’t been a leader or haven’t worked with a good leader, you may still think leadership is telling people what to do. But it’s really about character, vision, influence, serving your team, praising your team, being a good listener, and sometimes using power.

There are many character qualities for Christian leaders. Libraries have been written on the subject. Perhaps by some of you. But, based on my own unique experience, you’ll find ICE at the top of my list.


Don’t read past this one too quickly. There’s a good reason it tops the charts on most lists.  

You can’t take very many steps forward into leadership without it. Character is essential or nobody follows, and you are not worthy of being followed. Leadership starts here.  

There is a plethora of definitions for integrity. We all know what it means. Being trusted. Sincerity. Not perfect, but honest. Doing what you say you will do.

This is a reminder to do an integrity check-up. Just because you think you have integrity doesn’t mean everyone else agrees with you.  

Years ago, I asked my family a question during Sunday lunch at our kitchen table. “Has there ever been a time when I did not keep my word to you or didn’t do what I said I would do?” Starting with my wife, I went around the table scanning from the oldest to the youngest, looking for their answers. Four out of five said no. I felt pretty good about myself.

The youngest hand stretched up into the air. It was Jack again. “One time, you said we would go to the zoo, and we didn’t.” Jack was right. There was a time when the family had to cancel plans to go to the zoo because Jack got sick that morning.   

From Jack’s perspective, it didn’t matter why we didn’t go. I said we would, and we didn’t.

Are there areas in your life where your actions and your words do not presently match? Ask the Lord to reveal that to you. He will, and you can change it and bring it back into alignment.

And perhaps, you should find a way to ask some of those whom you have the privilege to serve.


This is a must-have. Your people are counting on you to make decisions, sometimes very difficult decisions with few good choices. Be courageous, decide, and move forward.

A leader needs courage to take action in sequence with bold faith, pursuing the vision God has placed before you and your team.

You must have the grit to make the tough calls, even when nobody else understands why you made them the way you did. Fortitude to shoulder the weight of leadership, to bear its burden, and sometimes, fight through the loneliness of your position.

When God gives a leader, courage and strength, it isn’t just for you. Those you lead will draw both qualities from you.


Every person on your team is dealing with something. Either at home, at work, or in their inner being, there’s a challenge, a disappointment, an anxiety. They are fighting something. Meet your people where they are like God does. Get eye-to-eye with your team, try to see things from their point of view, and offer appropriate levels of compassion.

As a leader, choose humility. My heart naturally walks towards pride. That’s dangerous. Don’t place yourself first or grow arrogant enough to live by different rules or standards than you expect from your team.

Don’t focus on your title, focus on your role.

Don’t try to be important, try to do what is important.

I was told there’s a difference between saying, “I am the CEO” and “I serve as the CEO..   

There’s a difference in the leader’s heart, and there’s a difference when your team hears you say it.

Love your team.

ICE Leadership

I wrote down this quote from a CLA Outcomes Conference Keynote a decade ago,

Leadership is a gift. The gift of leadership is what people give you when they agree to follow you. If you do not earn it, they will stop following you. And they will probably stop following you long before you know it.”

Integrity. Courage. Empathy.

Go earn it.

I pray that today we (you and I) can serve our teams in a manner pleasing to our Lord and Savior. Thank you for your work and service to our Lord.


Dustin Manis serves as President & CEO at Reaching Souls International. This year, Reaching Souls will see 10 million decisions to follow Christ and plant 6,000 churches through 2,500 National Missionaries in 14 countries. Dustin holds an MA in Philanthropy and Development. Connect with him at

Learn from men and women who understand what it means to be entrusted by God!



What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

Upcoming Events

Check back later!