You are more of a leader than you think you are
“But I’m not a leader.”
Oh, but yes, you are. You can make a difference in others’ lives. Leadership doesn’t always look the way we think it does. You don’t need a million followers or an elegant title to have influence. We tend to think that to lead others, we must be in a specific role or position, but that’s not true at all.
Jesus said that if we want to lead, we have to be willing to serve (Mark 10:43-45). You don’t need a title to serve or to put others first, which means that all of us have the ability to lead right where we are.
Leaders Are Shepherds
The Bible describes leadership as shepherding. Jesus calls Himself a shepherd in John 10, and the Bible says David, one of Israel’s great kings, “shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:72).
Good shepherds spent time in the fields with the sheep. They put the flock’s needs before their own and protected them from harm. Over time, the sheep came to trust the shepherd and listen to his voice, knowing the shepherd has their best interest at heart.
This was the kind of leadership Jesus demonstrated and the kind of leadership He calls us to. Learning to lead like a shepherd means learning to care for the people around us with the same compassion and love that a shepherd has for his sheep. That’s easy to say, harder to do.
Leading people well is loving people well, and that’s a change in attitude that requires us to do three things:
1. Trust God and submit your plans to Him.
Shepherding is hard, dirty work, and it takes years to experience the reward of raising healthy sheep. If you are discouraged by where you are or what seems like a lack of progress, remember James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” While your current state of affairs may be less than desirable, trust that God is up to something bigger than your current situation and there is purpose in this season.
2. Set the example for others by how you love.
1 Peter 5:2-4 says, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
How we behave toward others sets an example for others of how to treat people. Few places is this clearer than in parenthood. Kids do what they see us do.
When we’re overwhelmed by piles of laundry, dirty dishes, tantrums and arguments, sleepless nights, and schoolwork, it’s easier to tell kids what to do rather than tenderly show them the way. But how we lead during these moments has a long-lasting impact (Proverbs 22:6). They will learn to love and care for others by how we love and care for them.
As we wipe the snotty noses, kiss the scraped knees, practice the multiplication tables, and discipline behavior, parenthood becomes the purest example of putting the flock’s needs before our own.
3. Look for the purpose wherever you are.
As Christians, we carry the Spirit of the living God with us, and we have the opportunity to be a leader right where we stand. Raising kids is leading others. Hard labor is leading others.
Leadership is not authority; leadership is the opportunity to influence.
In 1 Chronicles 12:21-22, David was not chief of the army, but the men still followed him. Because David trusted God and cared for others well, people wanted to follow him. After a while, the Bible says “he had a great army, like the army of God.”
Our influence grows as we steward it well. Whether you are taking orders, busing tables, or punching a time card, you are exactly where you need to be right now. Give your best where you are and trust that God has you in your position for a reason (Colossians 3:23).
Whatever job title you hold, you are in a position to lead others because you are in a position to love others. Whether you consider your potential or choose to ignore the possibility, your actions have the ability to influence the people you interact with. So how you shepherd those around you today?