Yaroslav Pyzh, president of Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary and national coordinator for The Global Leadership Summit in Ukraine, loves his country, and ultimately desires to see more people discover Jesus across the nation. He believes that through godly leadership, and raising up leaders who are willing to get their hands dirty, hearts can be transformed, and Ukraine will be changed for the better.
There are three leadership principles he learned at the GLS he believes are key, paradigm-shifting ways to begin emerging out of Ukraine’s post-communist culture: giving back, measuring the success of your followers and being held accountable. While they may seem like simple leadership concepts, Yaroslav tells us they have been eye opening for leaders in the Ukraine.
Leadership is giving back
“One of the heritages we have from the former Soviet Union is the whole idea of leadership and what it looks like,” says Yaroslav. “According to that world view, leadership takes advantage of others. I think this is probably the most difficult thing we struggle with right now. And we will be struggling with this for the next generation or so. If you take that perspective, it’s very challenging because people don’t trust you. They have learned everyone is using them or abusing them. When you try to motivate them, or inspire them, they are always looking for some ulterior motive that you might have.
“The Summit taught us that leadership is about servanthood and giving back. Leaders have to give something. This is opposite to our thinking. But through GLS, we discovered that leadership is about what you give back.”
Leadership is measured by the success of your followers
“How do you measure your effectiveness as a leader?” asks Yaroslav. “Quite often in our case, people measure their effectiveness by their own achievements. But what we hear at the GLS, and what we try to practice now, is never measure your leadership capabilities by your own achievements.
“You always measure your leadership success by the success of your followers—this is something that is very different for our culture. When you are thinking about leadership and what you gain from it, you don’t really think about your followers and what they gain. That’s a very challenging thing for us, and is shifting our thinking as we begin adding value to people through our leadership.
“Leaders and those who participate in Summit have to remember that it’s not numbers that inspire us, or personal achievements, but what we find in the hearts and values of people. The whole of leadership is about people.”
Leadership is being held accountable
“The third one is very difficult for me personally, and I’ve seen it be difficult for other people too,” says Yaroslav. “It’s being held accountable. Accountable not only for the success of your followers, but also the mistakes of your followers.”
“In our case, our culture is very distrusting. One of the things we deal with the most is the fear. What if I make mistakes? Quite often people are afraid to do things, and so they don’t do them. They are afraid to feel this shame and guilt that come from making mistakes. It is a very big part of our culture. So the GLS is challenging us in this way.”
My grander vision for Ukraine
“My grander vision is difficult to achieve, but a very simple idea,” says Yaroslav. “I would like to see every local church grow through baptisms and discipleship.
“Right now our local churches are declining in numbers tremendously. But as Bill Hybels always talks about, the local church is the hope of the world. That’s really true and that’s what I believe. So everything I do as the president of the seminary, and through GLS, and all the other conferences for leadership development, is always geared toward one thing—To enable and help every single local church grow through baptism and discipleship. That is the whole idea, the premise of everything that I would like to see happen in the future.
“God is good to us, and our vision is clear. When people follow a vision, not just follow you personally, but actually follow that vision, and you provide them with tools needed for it, our churches will grow.
“When we started GLS three years ago, we started with 400 people in our location. Last year we had about 1,000 in one location and we had another location that was 300. We had a couple more locations in Ukraine, so we experienced a tremendous growth because people are hungry for these things. Even at the seminary. This year we will have over 500 students. These things are working!”
Thank you for supporting the GLS in Ukraine
“I really appreciate all the help that the GLS provides in Ukraine, and for helping us start the GLS here. My personal thankfulness is for people who invested in Ukraine and our GLS because God is using that tool to touch so many hearts and a new generation of leaders who will form what will happen in our churches and our society. In the midst of all the trouble we’re going through, true leadership is what we really need. Without a true leader, and without a true vision, we don’t really have a future, so thank you for investing in our future and our leadership development in Ukraine.”—Yaroslav Pyzh, GLS leader, Ukraine