Leaders are the ones with all the answers, the one who has done it right without mistakes, the one who knows everything. The brilliant one who multitasks with one eye shut and a hand tied behind their back.
Usually, it is the weakest person who refuses to quit and is humble enough to learn life lessons as they present themselves. Leaders are not born; they are made. Forged from the fires of failure and perseverance, they refuse to quit because their cause is too great.
King Solomon shows many examples of leadership. The queen of Sheba shares about Solomon’s leadership in 1 Kings 10:4-9:
“When the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, and the house (palace) which he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants (court officials), the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cup-bearers, his stairway by which he went up to the house (temple) of the Lord, she was breathless and awed [by the wonder of it all]. Then she told the king, “The report which I heard in my own land about your words and wisdom is true! I did not believe the report until I came and saw it with my own eyes. Behold, half of it was not told to me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. How blessed (fortunate, happy) are your men! How blessed are these your servants who stand continually before you, hearing your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, He made you king to execute justice and righteousness.”
Solomon’s leadership in 1 Kings 4:29 shaped his kingdom and transformed the people around him.
Leadership vs Management
There is a shortage of real leaders today. We have plenty of managers and organizers. A leader is different; they see what few see, and do what few do. They are people-builders. Leaders manage things, but lead people.
A leader leads others. They observe and learn to cultivate the gifts of the ones who follow them. The fabric of a leader exemplifies integrity. They are honest and always sharpening their skills to be the best example to others. They do what they say and say what they do.
Many people are available to help but are they gifted to lead others? Just because they are available to lead doesn’t mean they are leaders.
Here are some signs you might be a leader:
- Are people following you?
- Do people get behind your ideas?
- Are you influencing those above you?
- Do people come to you for advice and counsel?
- Is what you’re doing being replicated in other circles?
They can’t pour themselves into everyone, so they must choose those who have influence. Effective leadership comes alongside others and doesn’t stand over people and bark at them.
Their philosophy could look like this:
- Equip others to excel beyond what they believe they can do.
- Encourage others to continue growing into their potential.
- Empower others to build trust and to replicate your heart in others.
Observing the person’s capacity to receive from you will determine retention and growth. Study your team and see what frustrates them and what edifies them, what stunts the work and what builds momentum and then adjust accordingly.
The Hero Complex
Leaders may take on a “hero complex” where they feel the need to be the answer to all things at hand. It can’t be a one-man show; this spells death for the leader. No one is able to do it all. Fatigue can happen when a leader doesn’t develop their team to the fullest extent. If you are the keyhole to all your growth, then creativity and growth will be choked out eventually.
Setting people up for failure happens when there is poor communication, poor tools and no environment of trust. Leaders lead others into believing and acting in their potential.
Non-negotiables for leaders:
- Inspire others
- Train others
- Exemplify the mission
- Be a team-builder that builds and includes like-minded people
- Engage in continuous self-education
Often leaders believe they can talk and do everything without a specialty niche. If you don’t know what you do best then true effectiveness will not be realized. You may be productive in meeting goals but effectiveness is when you impart the vision and build people to duplicate your vision.
Want to be feared or respected? Intimidation may get someone to do what you want them to do but it won’t win the heart. As soon as you’re out of sight, you will be out of their mind. An insecure leader will make sure everyone knows who is the “boss”. The one who has real control and influence will communicate and lead by example. What they do will speak louder than what they say.
Ego can drive the power-hungry to demand more control. This “impossible to satisfy” leader may get the job done but they will destroy people in the process. You will be surprised at who will rise to the surface as you train your team; it is often hidden talent among you. Get out of your own way.
What kind of leader are you?
Your skill-sets will determine your ability. Personality is not enough to build other leaders; we must give what we have been given. We want those we are surrounded by to go beyond where we are now. The attitude of our team reflects on how they are cared for. People don’t follow titles alone; they want to know the heart of their leader and follow their passions.
Some types of leadership look like this:
- Mover and Shaker. Lots of movement and growth. People are watching and moving with you
- Visionary. Inspired to dream big as if nothing is impossible.
- Builder. Building people and systems to make the impossible believable and achievable.
- Figure-head. Present, but lost the heart of the vision long ago.
- Passive-aggressive. Lives in procrastination, then in reaction.
- Overbearing. Controls every detail being image-conscious more than developing others around him.
The impact is not the only result of leadership; a hammer impacts as well as consistent droplets of water, with two different results. Transferring your passions and dreams to another so they can follow in your footsteps will build a lasting legacy.
What is shaping you?
The leader must be led. Those around you will grow to the measure that you grow. You are the average of the five people that influence your life.
Look around you and ask yourself:
- Am I going in the direction I want to go?
- Am I becoming the person I want to become?
- What am I building; people or an organization?
- Am I looking to learn from others?
- Am I thankful?
The answers to these questions will determine if you are a leader or a follower. Impact where you are by living outside the comfort box of that which comes easy to you. Develop effectiveness by learning new tools to trail-blaze beyond what everyone else is doing.
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)