I don’t feel like I can lead. How do I make a difference?
I don’t have any opportunities to be a leader. What do I do How do I improve as a leader?
How do I know what a good leader looks like?
Have you ever had a day where you feel like everything has fallen apart right before
your eyes, and the reason that everything has fallen apart because of your own hand? Has a day like this ever happened to you, right in the middle of a week that felt like you have accomplished nothing that you set out to do? And once you get home, finally ready to put that week behind you, and as you are about to go to bed, you realize you forgot to celebrate your wife’s (or friends/family/etc.) birthday? Weeks like that make you question why you are the way you are, curl up on the couch in some pajamas, and take a five hour nap and try again next month!
I was talking with my dad the other day about my new job as a young pastor at my
church. I was complaining about how much I hate messing up, feeling like I’m a terrible leader, and realizing that I am not going to be able to make a difference in this place. After my dad listened to the woes of a total failure, my father (successful business owner, Mr. Fix-everything-in-the-world, probably would solve all the worlds problems if given the chance) asked, “It kinda makes you feel like you need to check and make sure your pants aren’t put on backwards, doesn’t it?” I don’t care who you are, but hearing a statement like that come from someone you really look up to can instantly put things into perspective.
For many people, leadership can seem about 5 miles outside of impossible. You might
feel like you are totally incapable of being someone leads in any capacity! For others, you have a desire to lead, but you don’t know where to start. Or, you might even be someone who see’s themselves as a leader, but you realize that you have a need to grow as a leader. No matter where you are on the scale of leadership, every single person who has placed their faith in Jesus can and should be a leader. Let’s look at 5 characteristics from scripture of someone who is a leader like Christ 1 :
1. Slave to All
James and John came to Jesus and asked Him to give themselves a place of honor next to Jesus while in Heaven. They were excited to serve alongside Jesus and to be exalted with Him once He was finished with the work that the Father had sent Him to do! They were willing to do just about anything to earn those seats at the table, yet Jesus shot them down with a single phrase: The one who is the greatest must be your servant, and the one who is to be first must be a servant to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:43-45) 1 1 Peter 5:1-4, Mark 10:35-45, Matthew 25:31-46
A true leader that is like Christ is not someone who is trying to be a leader in the church is not someone who is trying to be a leader at all! Christ’s whole goal by coming to Earth was to give His life so that others would live. Our goal as leaders should be to elevate and serve other people. By serving those around us, we are giving life to people who may need it. If our mentality is focused on ourselves, we end up trampling the very people that are around us. It is impossible for someone who truly what has been done on our behalf by the Creator to thin that they are more important and deserving than others. Being great means submitting as a servant to everyone around us.
2. Do the next right thing
Jesus is talking to His disciples about the end times when every single soul will stand before the throne of God.(Matthew 25:31-46) In the story, God is separating all people to those who were faithful and those who do not belong to the Father and are being cast out of His presence. In the story, God tells them why they have earned their spots in each group, and all of them relate to how they served Him or didn’t serve Him. In both groups, everyone is confused? When did I feed you, Jesus? When did I visit you? I have never seen you before? His answer: What you
did for the least of these, you did for me. It can often feel like I go through a time when I haven’t accomplished a lot of big things. I may have no idea how to lead a team well, I messed up on something, or I may be at a loss on how to move forward in a difficult situation. But here is the thing, even though there will be lots of times when I don’t know what to do, it isn’t difficult to know what I should do. I may not know how to plan a large event, but I know how to pray for someone in need. I may not get to
speak at a large conference, but I can share the gospel with one person. If I were to leave this church, in 6 years at the most, I will be completely forgotten with 0 evidence I even existed at this church/student ministry/city. But I know that I have been called to serve those who are in need. God has called us to be faithful, not famous. Be humble, and do the next right thing.
3. Be Willing
1 Peter 5 gives us our last 3 characteristic of a true leader. While Peter is talking directly to the elders of a church, the principal still applies to all believers. How would you feel if you were excited to try something new (a new job, event, sport, team, etc.), and your coach or leader hated every minute of being there! Imagine caring about the team more than the one leading it? Not only that, but it feels like the leader doesn’t even really like talking to you or cares about your life!
Many of us have probably had experiences like this in our lives, and if not, probably soon will. A poor attitude can destroy a good, talented team and their desire to invest in the task. In order to be a good leader, we must make sure to check our hearts and pride at the door. If you aren’t willing to do what is needed to be done, even if it means the small things that seem below you. If you aren’t willing to do something, and to do it well, why would you ask someone else to do it?
4. Be Eager
I worked for a Student Pastor and one of his favorite things to say was, “Every moment is a ministry moment.” As a follower of Jesus, every single moment is an opportunity to minister to someone. It might mean that every place we go has someone who needs to hear the gospel. Maybe, there is another believer that we can stir up towards love and good works! Maybe, simply listening and loving on someone who needs encouragement or help! Ministry is not the big events or the teachers on stage. Ministry is any opportunity that the gospel can be used to heal the illnesses of this world, or good news for the wayward sinner. What does this have to do with being a leader or even being eager? When I was a student, one of my pastors pointed to an old man sitting on the back row of the church (we were sitting in the churches sound booth during a service). I look at this old man, not thinking much about him. He looked like he could barely walk! My pastor asked me if I had heard of the Apollo 13 space mission, which I had. My pastor told me that the man sitting on the back row with a cane, barely able to move, was one of the original engineers for the Apollo 13 mission, and that he was also one of the men who helped figure out how to bring a space pod full of astronauts who were floating in space without oxygen back to Earth, safely and successfully. I instantly became eager to meet this man who had helped to shape history of space travel
because I knew who he was! When we realize that every moment that we have comes from the Lord, we realize what a blessing each moment is. And when we realize that by ministering to someone, we can help someone draw closer to an infinitely powerful and loving God that they might otherwise miss, it can help you be eager to do something! Even if you aren’t the “most skilled/important/charismatic/etc.” leader in the world, being eager to see every moment as an opportunity to glorify God will help you to have an incredibly impact no matter where you are as a follower of Jesus. No moment is an accident, therefore every moment has incredible potential. Be eager to see and take those moments.
5. Lead By Example
Growing up, my grandpa would tell me to “Do as I say, not as I do.” Usually, that phrase would come out when I wanted to do something dangerous because he was in the process of doing something dangerous. Most people who live by this mentality will not be leading for very long. Someone who can look at another person, tell them how they should act, yet are not living out their own advice are at some point not being honest with themselves. Either they don’t believe what they say, or they don’t have all of the answers they claim they have. As a pastor, I have a desire to see the flock experience life in Christ. My main job is not to hold authority over the flock or church, nor is it to plan events. The biggest part of being a pastor at Northwest is to live my life as an example to those the Lord has given me. I’m not perfect, but I want to follow the Lord with my whole life. In 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1, Paul’s desire is to do what it takes to help many come to know Christ. In 11:1, Paul tells the Corinthian church to imitate him as he imitates Christ. What do you see as a need in the church, company, or group? If there is a lack of character, have character. If there is someone in need, help them. If you believe that people should follow Christ, should share the gospel, or disciple someone, even if nobody else is, then do the same! True biblical leaders are often times weak or meek. Yet they place their faith in the Lord, even if it means they might be alone in doing so.
In the church, a leader is not someone who holds the highest rank, the most power, or
even the greatest ability when it comes to certain skills. For a follower of Christ, a true leader is one who follows the example of Christ. Leadership in its truest form is not simply being the one who stands on the stage at a large conference, nor is it taking a head role on a team during an event. Being a leader does not mean that you are the “most useful” for the staff, nor does it even mean that you have the most experience out of anyone in the room! A leader is not just for the most outgoing, organized, well spoken, popular, or most accomplished. Being a true leader means leading out in the little things! Great leaders weren’t those people who accomplished great things first and then went on to greater things! They were the people who were faithful everyday to do the things that needed to be done.
Author: Cody Tooley
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