There is a difference between leadership and influence. Leaders have influence but so do others. True leadership requires a heart for those following, passion, conviction, a sense of direction and most of all true leadership requires the right perspective. Leadership is more than merely occupying a position at the front of a parade.
Key Scripture: Matthew 23:11 “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
Two years ago my niece and I were driving back home from Austin Texas. US Highway 290 towards Houston is a 4 lane highway allowing for better travel than some 2 lane alternatives. At that time the speed limit along a certain portion was 70 mph for several miles through the beautiful countryside, up and down hills and around long curves. Although it is a fairly accommodating highway, that day we found ourselves approaching what appeared to be a long line of cars driving 15 to 20 mph below the speed limit stacking up in both lanes.
We slowed down and moved into the passing lane but gained no ground. Soon there were cars lining up behind us moving from one lane to the other trying to find some small advantage and get around us at any opportunity. This went on for miles and miles. It can be quite dangerous.
Topping the hills and looking into the distant curves I could see the problem way ahead. There were two cars, one in each lane, both driving along together about the same speed, which was 15 to 20 mph below the posted limit, each refusing to get out of their comfort zone and connect with the fact that they were causing trouble behind them.
Rather than getting frustrated I decided to discuss this situation with my niece and attempt to discover some principles of truth. Since we were in this situation we might as well learn something we could later apply to life. If I had have known it was going to be such a long lesson I might have stopped and gotten something to drink before continuing the class.
One of the principles Teena and I discovered and confirmed that day was the fact that just because a person is up in front, going somewhere with people behind them following in the same direction at the same pace, does not automatically make them a leader - instead, they might be a roadblock.
True leadership is more than occupying a position, having a title or being out in front influencing others. Leadership requires a connection, a care and a concern for those following along behind. Leadership is more than just going somewhere, it is first and foremost helping others get where they need to go. It’s difficult to lead when you don’t respect the rules.
Leadership says, “Come go with me; do what I do; get what I get; end up where I end up; let’s go together and I’ll help you get there.” Unless everyone gets what the leader gets, it’s not true leadership but rather manipulation designed to achieve some selfish ambition or personal goal of the leader. There is a difference between helping others reach God’s goals for their life and using others to get what we want. And, just because we have influence with people does not mean we show up on God’s list of approved leaders. Leaders should have influence but not everyone who has influence should be leading.
And by the way, God called, God ordained and God approved leaders don’t just influence others, they have influence with God as well. Nonetheless, each Born Again Believer has a God-given responsibility to influence other individuals and lead them to Christ.
How can we fulfill our God-given leadership responsibilities at home, at work, at school, in the community and at Church? To better understand God’s perspective on leadership let’s read a passage of scripture that describes the mindset of a true leader.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him …
There are two things God seems to value in leadership above all else:
· Humility (Verses pride or a sense of entitlement)
· Obedience (Instead of self will, personal ambition or sacrifice)
A leader must value obedience not only in others but first in themselves. We cannot ask from others what we are unwilling to give first. Perhaps one reason why some parents, bosses, preachers, teachers and politicians have trouble getting people to obey is because they won’t.
It is essential that we learn to humble ourselves and obey. First we obey God and then we obey those whom God has set over us. In order to best influence others to follow Christ we must present ourselves as humble servants without a personal agenda and willing to follow our leader. That’s right, even true leaders must obey – especially true leaders must obey.
A servant without a master may do no harm but a leader who has no master may destroy the world.
While the world looks for a leader to make a way God chooses a servant who simply follows the way. According to the scriptures leadership is based on service to others. And, a leader who will not obey God and serve his followers is no leader God will support.
1. One is not a leader simply because others are following.
2. Leadership is more than influence.
3. Whoever desires to be great must obey God and serve others.
4. God exalts true humility.
5. We are responsible to lead others to be like Christ.
Matthew 20:27; Matthew 25:21; Hebrews 13:7&17; Luke 9:46