At some point in our lives we have been influenced by the leadership of someone. Whether that leader was great or poor does not matter. We have all been influenced by someone or many people throughout the course of our lives. For many of us the first leaders we knew were our parents, our public school teachers, guidance counselors or coaches. Some of us are leaders ourselves today and we may not even know it. To comprehend your role in leadership you must understand what leadership is and is not. Once we understand the fundamentals of leadership we can work toward developing ourselves (and each other) into better leaders.
Leadership is Not
Leadership is not being a boss, a policy maker, a ruler, a ranked officer, etc. While people in those roles can be leaders, they are not inherently leaders by virtue of the role they hold. A leader is someone who disciples, influences, mentors, recognizes the potential in others and seeks to grow that potential into character with a servant heart. A leader will often deny themselves in effort to nurture the growth of another. Leadership is a process of understanding the desires, passions and abilities of those that you lead in effort to align them with opportunities that will challenge their growth. Leadership is exciting, rewarding and often dirty.
The concept of denying ourselves for the sake of another individual or group is almost foreign to many of our modern cultures. So those that actively do so tend to stand out and stand alone. As a leader denying the desires of yourself makes you available to guide others. When we do this authentically the result tends to generate a bit of loyalty between the leader and those they lead. Whether we admit it or not, we all feel good when we are served. Unfortunately our culture leaves many people feeling uncomfortable when they are served without the need or ability to repay. Authentic leadership strives to change this cultural phenomenon. Leadership lives largely in the realm of risk taking and counter-cultural action. Leaders see beyond themselves and understand the bigger picture and then translate that picture into something their followers can understand. Like a mother bird, leaders digest the picture for the growth of those following.
A Desire To Teach and Learn
Leadership is a desire to teach and learn simultaneously. We seek to learn from our students. It is foolish to believe we are only teachers. Leaders must humbly seek to be themselves taught by their students and experiences. We disciple them in our actions and especially our humility. Leaders create leaders. The next time you find yourself teaching (or learning) stop and consider that you are also discipling and potentially creating leaders. As you serve you are influencing, discipling, teaching, learning, creating leaders, contributing and living the Gospel.