Today we have two problems in the arena of leadership: (1) people aspiring for leadership for the wrong reasons and (2) people not aspiring for leadership through fear or personal feelings of inadequacy. Selfish ambition is to be avoided. We are warned against seeking position or prominence for ourselves. Status seeking is not to be part of the kingdom of God (Jer.45:5). Jesus did not want ego-driven leaders. To his ambitious disciples he gave a new standard of greatness (Mk.10:42-45). Unfortunately, our culture often sees leadership as ‘ruling over’ people. It’s about position, power, prominence and prestige. Jesus made it very clear that this was not to be the spirit of his kingdom. Leadership is all about serving people. True leadership is found in giving yourself in service to others not in manipulating others to serve you. The true spiritual leader must focus on the service he or she can give to God and other people, not on the perks or personal benefits of leadership. However, is it okay to desire to be a leader? Yes, Godly desire for leadership is commended and in fact encouraged. In the first century when Paul wrote this, leadership in the church was not a glamorous task. In his danger, church leaders faced great danger and the work involved much hardship and possibly persecution. Christians needed encouragement to lead. Paul urges us to the work of leading the church out of a deep love for Christ and a genuine concern for the church (1 Tim.3:1).What is ‘Leadership’?
There have been many attempts at defining “leadership”. A lot of people think leadership is about “position” or having a “title”. The simplest definition of leadership is influence . Leadership is the ability to influence others so that they follow you as you follow Christ (1 Cor.11:1). All of us are influencing (leading) and being influenced (following) in every area of life. Everyone influences someone. The issue is not whether we influence others but what kind of an influence we will be. Yes, there are certain people who God gives a “gift of leadership” too, but all of us need to lead to some degree based on our unique styles and levels of calling. As believers … we are called to be “the head not the tail”; to influence our world for righteousness by being “salt and light”; to be a thermostat not a thermometer; to change atmospheres and not be squeezed into the world’s mould and to make disciples – to reach people for Christ and then help them grow.
The world needs more leaders! Leaders in the home, leaders in the community, leaders in the marketplace, leaders in education, leaders in business, leaders in government and most importantly, leaders in the church. The need for leaders is so great but the candidates seem so few. Good godly leaders are in short supply. Constantly, people and groups are looking for them. Throughout, the Bible we see God searching for leaders too (1 Sam.13:14. Ezek.22:30). Being a leader requires great strength and faith. However, when God finds a person willing to lead, he enables them and uses them despite their weaknesses and flaws.Why People Avoid Leadership
Why do many people seem to avoid leadership or are reluctant to get involved?
You Can Be Leader!
- Feelings of Inadequacy. Many people have feelings of condemnation from the enemy. They don’t feel ‘good enough’. Many wrongly feel that to be a leader, you have to have it all together. Some have a fear of failure or not doing well. Will they be embarrassed if they don't do well? Others feel they don’t have what it takes to be a leader. The truth about leadership is that there is no definitive, consistent list of leadership traits. Exceptions abound. Moses was not articulate. Moses and Jonah had no desire to lead, Paul and Barnabas had such a strong argument that they went separate ways – so much for relational skills! Traits are related to leadership but not essential to it. J. Oswald Sanders says, “When Jesus selected leaders, he ignored every popular idea of his day (and ours) about what kind of person could fit the role. His disciples were untrained and without influence – a motley crew to bring about world change.”
Rise above your fear and low self-esteem. See yourself as God sees you. You can be who God says you can be and you can do what God says you can do . You have great potential in God – both naturally and spiritually because of the Holy Spirit living within you. You can influence others for good. Here at CityLife Church we are committed to helping people developing their gifts, be effective in ministry and rise to leadership (LIFETRAX is our life and leadership development course)
- The Commitment Level is Too High. Leadership has always been difficult and hard work. There are time challenges and pressures that leadership can create in our world, including on our family. Yes, it’s true. Leadership is not easy (see 2 Cor.4:7-12). There’s more responsibility (for others, not just yourself), more pressure (stress, workload, burden) and more vulnerability (to criticism, discouragement, misunderstanding, gossip, failure). Is it worth it? Yes, the rewards can be great! There is great joy in knowing you’ve been a positive influence on other people. It’s worth the effort. I have received more than I have ever given. I am a better person today because of the taking up the responsibility of leadership.
- Previous Negative Experience. Some people have been in leadership before but due to negative experiences are hesitant to become involved again. Maybe this is because they had very little pastoral support or maybe there were too many draining people or they were working under poor leadership. This can result in losing interest – kind of a “been there and done that” attitude. Here at CityLife Church we endeavor to provide both training and support for all leaders so they don’t feel alone in the task of leadership.
You can rise up and be used mightily by God. You can lead and influence others according to your gifting and passion . We need people in the church who are being ministered to, to rise up and become ministers to others. Our mandate is to make disciples and everyone needs to be a part of this task. We need people in the church to rise up and lay hold of their mission from God. We need people to rise up and aspire to leadership in every area and ministry.
Our primary leadership need in CityLife Church is for Cell Leaders or LifeGroup Leaders (our new name). A LifeGroup Leader takes responsibility to lead a small group of 8-15 adults, seeking to facilitate relationship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism (our four purposes for a LifeGroup). Our vision is to have a large network of LifeGroups right across this city forming a huge “net” to hold the harvest God wants to bring into the church. LifeGroups are all about reaching people not just a program we’re trying to force on everyone. We believe everyone (regardless of age, gender, marital status, educational background, personality or spiritual gifting) has the potential to become a LifeGroup Leader. Obviously, not everyone will , but each person needs to lift their faith to consider this important role and catch the vision of what can be accomplished.
Leadership is a gift or skill that needs to be developed. Born leaders will emerge, but even they must develop their leadership skills in order to be effective. Ninety per cent of your leadership will be through development. The ten per cent that is gifted will succeed only if development and growth takes place. We learn by watching other leaders (models or mentors), training and the very act of leading. What do leaders do (see 1 Cor.11:1)?
Sample Discussion Questions
- They have a sense of direction – ‘follow me as I follow Christ’. Great leaders are first of all great followers. They are heading somewhere and following someone or something. This implies they’re not satisfied with ‘what is’ and they’re moving forward toward a better ideal. They have a vision of the future. Of course, Christian leaders are following Jesus and seeking to bring about his intentions in this world.
- Lead by example – ‘follow me’. Good leaders never ask people to go where they themselves have not been (not ‘go there’!). They give people something to follow – an example to imitate. As a leader, whatever you want people to be, you be that (don’t just talk about it). ‘Who you are’ will be your greatest impact.
- Initiate change – ‘follow me’. We’re not where we need to be – let’s move! Let’s take steps forward to seeing God’s will realised in and through our lives.
- What do most people think of when they hear the word ‘leader’? What is it about this word that tends to frighten a lot of people off, thinking, ‘That’s not me!’?
- How should leadership be different in the church than in the world?
- What are some of the unique pressures of being a leader? What are some of the rewards?
- Think of a leader who you really admire. Describe in one word why you they came to your mind? Could you develop that quality too?
- Ask those who have completed LIFETRAX Track 4 to share what they learned.
- Discuss ‘what leaders do’ (from 1 Cor.11:1). Could you do that for a small group of people?
- What are some ways we can inspire more people to consider taking up the baton of church leadership?