The Great Leadership Lie
“Not everyone can be a leader, you know.”
It was a casual statement, thrown flippantly in my direction. He didn’t mean any harm by it, I’m sure. Still, two years after he declared his convictions, I’m still troubled by the weight of that inaccuracy.
He was wrong, dead wrong, and it bothered me to my core that he believed this about the people within his influence.
Leadership isn’t a title. It isn’t a birthright. It isn’t an elite status for the educated, wealthy and powerful. Leadership is all about making the world a better place through the purposeful use of our unique God-given talents and circumstances.
Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges write in their book Lead Like Jesus, “Leadership is a process of influence. Anytime you seek to influence the thinking, behavior, or development of people in their personal or professional lives, you are taking on the role of a leader.”
You lead when you:
- Take on a thankless task because it needs to get done.
- Honor your spouse, rather than putting him down.
- Help your coworker realize she has a unique skill set, and that you couldn’t do your work without her.
- Stand your ground when your toddler throws a tantrum so that someday he can be a productive member of society.
- Ask your boss the second question, in a way that is kind, respectful, and assertive.
- Make the decision to do what’s right, even though it’s unpopular.
- Give your time, talents and treasure so that the people within your influence can thrive.
You have a unique sphere of influence, where only you can lead. And in His grace, God has provided you with His strength, paired with the abilities you need to succeed.
In Romans we read, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully." (Romans 12:6-8, NIV)
Can everyone be in charge? Of course not. The best leaders know when to sit back, listen, and let someone else call the shots. To everything there is a season. There is a time to lead and a time to be led.
Still, I am a leader. You are a leader. We each have the incredible responsibility to lead in our homes, our workplaces, our churches and our communities. Don’t squander the opportunity to make a difference whenever and wherever you can. There’s too much at stake when we just sit on our hands.
If you don’t own your influence, someone else will.
You are a leader. There’s no doubt about it. So search your heart and take a look around you. Where do you need to step up and lead today?