There is an ongoing discussion in our family about leadership. It has really been going on since my kids reached high school but has escalated since we arrived in Adrian. It really started when my oldest son was not allowed to be a co-captain of the football team. The players voted him into a tie with another boy and they gave the final position to the other boy. Then as the season continued the coach kept yelling at him about how he needs to become a leader. The best we can figure the coaches definition of a leader is someone who shouts and gets excited. To him a leader is someone who is very vocal.
The conversation grew again when both of my boys were rejected for a group in the school. To be members of this group the boys had to complete some paperwork. There were two dates on the forms they had to turn in and they misunderstood and turned it in at the later date. Wrong choice. So they get a rejection letter in the mail and it states they cannot join the club because of the timeliness of their paperwork and then it added this statement, “and a lack of leadership.” So the best we can come up with is that this organization defines leadership as being willing to follow instructions. (Which, honestly, is a characteristic of a good follower.)
This topic reappeared last night as one of my boys saw a picture of the group of teenagers who are now a part of this organization. Out of a large group of teenagers only a handful were really leaders. My boys know these teens and I said that all of them are great people, but that does not make them leaders. So while I am talking about this my son Logan asks, “Dad, how do you define leadership?”
I have thought about this question a great deal. First, because he needs to know the truth and everyone seems to come at their definition differently. Second, I ask myself this question as a pastor on a weekly basis. “What does it mean to be a leader” is a vital question that needs an answer.
I have come upon one clear definition in the Bible that I have no way to improve on.
Matthew 20:25-28 (NIV) Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. (26) Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, (27) and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– (28) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus tells his followers that true leadership is not about having authority over people but is about a willingness to serve other people.
True leadership is a rare characteristic:
-It pick up trash when no one is looking.
-It helps someone in need without putting it on an resume.
-It shows up early and makes sure everything is ready for an event.
-It stays late and cleans up so that the next group will have a clean facility.
-It sacrifices itself for the good of another person.
-It prays for people who are hurting away from the crowd and public eye.
-It serves in hundreds of ways that most people never notice.
Biblical leadership is hard to find because most people seek after titles, authority and praise rather than asking how they can serve. The Church is in desperate need of good leaders but these leaders must be defined by their acts of service more than anything else. So today I am asking myself – Am I a Godly leader … in my home, in my Church and in my community? If not, I may need to go home and get my work clothes on.