“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed … Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
What comes to mind when you think about leadership? Is it a corner office? A battlefield? A government? What about a mama wiping Cheerios off the wall or a six-year-old speaking hope into the heart of his hurting teammate?
Leadership is simply influence. We all exercise some amount of sway—at home, at work, with our friends. If nothing else, we lead ourselves. And if the only person following you right now is you, be the best dang leader of you possible. Glorify God in how you shepherd, evaluate, invest in, challenge, and protect yourself; He takes great delight in rewarding faithfulness in the small things. As your surrender and obedience increase, so might your opportunities. See each one as a gift, held with open hands as an act of worship.
While there are a bazillion great resources on the topic, The Jesus-Hearted Woman by Jodi Detrick is my current favorite. (And don’t worry, gents—it applies to you, too.) Here are the ten leadership qualities from her book, along with a couple of questions on each. Rank how much you exhibit the traits using a scale from 1 (not at all) to 5 (all the time). As you consider your own sphere of influence, allow the Spirit to reveal what He sees.
1. Confidence—Where do you find your assurance? How does confidence differ from pride?
2. Authenticity—Who might you need to be real with? How does the gospel birth fearless sincerity?
3. Humility—What kind of follower are you? Would others find you teachable?
4. Stamina—How can you develop staying power (particularly in seasons of struggle and waiting)? Do you have a history of enduring or of giving up?
5. Resilience—How quickly do you tend to bounce back? What do you do when you feel stuck/tired/bullied/shamed?
6. Courage—How have you been known to handle fear? Why is courage a crucial piece of leadership?
7. Self-Awareness—Why should leaders care about knowing themselves? What do you need to learn about who you are?
8. Kindness—How do you (or could you) make a habit of loving others, regardless of their rank? What kindnesses have you been shown by the King of the universe?
9. Soul Care—How practiced are you in setting boundaries, limits, and replenishment for yourself? What fills you back up when your energy is drained?
10. Vision—How clear is your picture of what God desires for your ministry (either to yourself or to others)? Would an outsider looking in want to follow what you’re inviting them to?
If one item (or ten) made you cringe, no worries—what a glorious chance to see Jesus work up close and personal! You’re being given a front-row seat to watch Him form what Eugene Peterson calls a Genesis week in you. No amount of willpower can release your heart into its full potential as a leader, so the fact that God Himself is tasked with the endeavor is a beautiful thing.
Scripture brims with examples of influence, both wonderful and awful. Whether you have been set over an entire company or your entire being (heart, mind, soul, and strength), leadership is a calling to lean even harder on the cross. It’s easy to forget that leading someone is simply following Someone else. The Lord is walking ahead, hemming you in before and behind, and He’s got this. You’re not a big enough deal to mess up His plans. (Isn’t that a relief?) There are good works prepared in advance for us to do, people to love on with the full force of heaven inside us. If you’ve been waiting for an invite, this is it.