If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.
(Romans 12:8 NLT)
Are leaders made or born?
My answer is “Yes.”
But there’s something even more important for a follower of Jesus. The ability to lead is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to whomever He wills.
In a certain sense, everyone is a leader. But in another sense, leaders make up a smaller fraction of humanity. Some have estimated that fewer than 5% of all people have true leadership in their mix of strengths.
In over 50 years of church ministry it has been agonizing for me to watch non-leaders attempt to lead. That’s been especially true in the Church, where I have served my whole life.
My understanding of a leader is a person who has a clear vision for the future of the organization he/she is trying to lead, a pathway to implement that vision, and people who are following behind. Remove any one of those three elements and it’s not leadership, even though the person might have the title of “leader.”
With no vision, the best that can happen is mediocrity and lack of momentum.
With no plan for implementation, vision becomes a pipe-dream.
With no one following, the title “leader” loses its meaning. Leader of whom?
All my years of full-time ministry have been spent within the context of the local church. In that time it has been my joy to observe true leaders guide their congregations.
I have studied them and learned from them, both their effective actions and their mistakes.
Many pastors with whom I shared close proximity have been true leaders: clear in vision, courageous and moving forward with a group of people. A thrill to watch.
However, it is my belief that many people who have chosen to be “lead” pastors were not really called by God to that high place. For them it has been more of a career choice than it has been a clear call from God, equipped by the Holy Spirit to lead.
This has been extremely sad to watch. Often I have thought to myself, “If they would just move over and let someone with true leadership skills and passion do the job, the church (or organization) would be so much healthier.”
Not only are ministries being held hostage by a non-leader at the top, but they themselves are missing God’s call in their own lives to some other area of gifted service.
Can a person who has not been gifted with leadership get better at leading? Yes.
Can a person born to lead learn how to lead even better? Yes
Can a person who has NOT been gifted to lead do all God wants from a leader in a Christian context?
No, I don’t think so. Otherwise, what would the “GIFT of leadership” even look like? Why would it exist as a separate and specific gift?
Here are my bottom line assumptions:
If you have been gifted by God, trained, and are called to lead, do it with all your heart.
If you have not been gifted by God, please don’t attempt to lead. If you already are wearing the leadership hat, but have no vision, no clue of what it takes to move ahead, and nobody is following, by all means, acknowledge that and go find your calling in some other area.
Ministry is too important, and the needs are far too urgent, for a non-leader with no idea of how to function to be at the helm.
It’s an awesome privilege to lead any ministry. It’s also a heavy responsibility and carries with it a solemn performance review from God.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will
give an account (Hebrews 13:17 NASB95)
So, if God has called you to lead, dive in!
It’s not always safe.
It’s never easy.
It will always require humility.
But it’s how God created you to serve Him. Lead well, with the Spirit’s power and direction, to the glory of the Lord.