No one wonders more about leadership than those who are leading! Many of us did not start out realizing that we were, in fact, leaders. Right at the beginning, you must understand you are leading! If you cannot think of a place where you are leading, then go home and look in the mirror, the reflection you see is the first person you should be leading. You and I must lead ourselves. Now without question, I know that you lead in other areas as well. You are involved in your church, home, and workplace. Some of you volunteer your time at various agencies and entities. Getting a family ready and out the door and in the car for a two-week vacation may be the most significant laboratory for leadership in the world. I am going to share just a few initial ideas on the subject of leadership.
Leadership starts with you! You cannot lead others farther than you’ve led yourself. If you don’t pray, you will not be able to lead others to pray. If you do not organize your day, you will never be ready to lead others to organize their days. Regardless of whatever position you hold you have to lead yourself. All of us have discovered leaders who said one thing publicly and acted in another way privately, and each of us knows how disappointing it was to make that discovery. If you think kindness is necessary, then you must practice kindness. If you believe responsibility is essential, then you must act responsibly. It is something other than leadership when someone says one thing but does another, I believe the word is hypocrisy. You will never be able to lead anyone whether it be your children, people at work or a volunteer committee down at the church any farther than you are ready to lead yourself.
No two leaders are the same. There is no factory where leaders are mass-produced. In my context my earliest influences in the leadership area were pastors. No two pastors looked alike or lead in the same manner. Yes they followed similar principles, and their values were biblical, but in the execution of their leadership they varied significantly. Leaders do not look like cookies created from the same cookie-cutter, leaders look more like fingerprints and snowflakes similar but no two exactly alike. God created you to be who you are, so accept the fact and be the person and leader that God created.
Leadership is a process. Some people may have more apparent leadership abilities, but I refuse to accept that leaders are born, they are called and in the process of leading, develop their leadership. In my earlier pastorates, I had a particular style of leadership. I became comfortable with it, and it seemed to me to be working. Then one day I moved from a small town to a medium-size city from a newer church to an older established church. I discovered if you’re going to be a leader you have to continually adapt and change and learn and grow and develop yourself as a leader. Up to that point, my leadership toolbox contained only hammers. I saw every problem, obstacle and opportunity as a nail to be hammered. After experiencing a painful event or two, I realized I needed to change, develop and mature. The most comfortable thing was to blame the people for not following leadership. The real problem was with me and my failure to grow and adapt. Because leadership is indeed a process, I began to read, attend seminars and workshops, as well as asking seasoned veteran leaders their opinion on different scenarios. To this very day, I have to continue to grow and develop as a leader.
True leadership is shared. The most explicit definition of this is in the Bible, in Matthew chapter 28, the Great Commission. The resurrected Jesus says to go into the world and make disciples. This is His command to His followers. We can’t change or transform anyone only the power of Christ can change people. Yet He shares the mission with His followers. We are to go and baptize, to make disciples and to teach obedience to His Word. The first person that was ever hired to work with me in a church was a secretary. Up to this point I typed and printed the bulletin’s, I ordered materials and picked them up, in reality, I did everything! Because of my years in school and then serving as the chief typist at my churches, I became and still am a fast typist. I remember the first week that my new secretary was in the office. Through the door of my room I could hear her painfully slow typing, and I was miserable! I so much wanted to open the door, push her away from the typewriter and type the bulletin myself. I learned a couple of lessons that day. It does not make any difference how fast the bulletin is typed, just that it is typed! Her ability to take on this responsibility gave me more time to do other important tasks that only I could do. I was making a painful transition to shared leadership. From that day forward God has sent me women and men who have been partners in ministry and great leaders in their own right. And I and the places where I have served are better today because our leadership was shared.
Just some thoughts in the area of leadership.