My two biggest passions in ministry are preaching and leadership. I recently blogged the role of preaching where I reflected on my journey as a preacher. My leadership journey, like my preaching journey, also began early on in my spiritual journey.
The standard question is whether leaders are born or made (i.e., nature vs. nurture). I personally think leaders are made, that is, developed over the course of a lifetime (that’s the idea behind my post, It Takes 20 Years to Make a Sermon).
That’s certainly been my experience anyway. I don’t think I was born with any particular leadership gifts and neither did I have many strong leadership models to learn from while I was growing up. My leadership knowledge/skills/gifts have mostly developed in the last half of my life. Most of my focus on personal growth in the last two decades (reading, seminars, etc.) has been on leadership.
My leadership journey began while I was wrapping up my senior year in college in a Bachelor’s in Ministry degree program. At the time, John Maxwell, who was getting started as a national speaker/expert on leadership, did a seminar for leaders in my denomination. I got a copy of the videotape and watched over and over.
I began reading books on leadership. I subscribed to the “Injoy Life Club,” a monthly audio recording John Maxwell used to do. I attended leadership seminars and eventually concentrated on leadership in my doctor of ministry program at Asbury Theological Seminary.
Now, while I believe leaders are made (not self-made, however), I also believe there is a spiritual gift of leadership that God’s Spirit gives to some people when they become Christ-followers. Paul includes leadership in one of his lists of spiritual gifts (Romans 12.8) …
If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.
God gives some people gifts for leadership in the body of Christ. Leadership is a gift, a calling, that I take very seriously (it’s also a major focus of this blog).
Part of my responsibility as a leader is to constantly seek to grow my leadership gifts. I love what Rick Warren writes …
All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading.
Proverbs 19.27, which is good for everyone, is good for leaders, too, says …
If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know.
Finally, here are some great statements on leadership that I’ve read in various places in recent years …
Leading people is difficult. (Andy Stanley)
Leadership is always in high demand. (Reggie McNeal)
In times of crisis, we need leaders. (Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad)
Everything rises and falls on leadership. (John Maxwell)
Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. (Warren Bennis)
Leaders take us places we’ve never been before. (James Kouzes and Barry Posner)
Leadership experiences are, indeed, voyages of discovery and adventures of a lifetime. They’re challenging explorations under rigorous conditions, and they require pioneering spirits. (James Kouzes and Barry Posner)
The local church is the hope of the world and its future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders. (Bill Hybels)