Originally posted by LeRoy Barber on January 6, 2014
There seem to be many schools of thought around leaders. One question that intrigues me most is this: are leaders born or developed?
Some believe they are born, so they take a look at folks who have natural charisma and draw people to them without much effort. Some believe they are raised, so they create space for people to develop and choose leadership roles. These manifest themselves differently — one in the selection of those believed to be destined for leadership and given special attention and training, and others in the leadership development process where atmosphere is created for everyone to potentially choose leadership.
I would like to offer another view: that leaders emerge as imaginative people that inspire and motivate based on vision and call for the moment.
I think there is a difference between someone who leads and someone who wants to be in charge.
A leader in my opinion has a drive that is centered on people and solving the issue of the day, their passion often driving them and pushing them to the front, and their charisma motivating others to move in the same direction. A leader has a purpose and a call that goes beyond the present and pushes to a better future.
I am a Winston Churchill fan, and I believe he was motivated by the people and dreamed of something better than what they were facing at the time. His speeches were what he sincerely believed. “Never give up!” was his personal conviction. It connected with the heart of people and drove them together to victory.
I believe the motivation to be in charge is one of the most destructive drivers of leadership. Its motivation is self-centered and decisions are made out of self-gratification and control. Being in charge as a motivator displays an arrogance that assumes you are more qualified to direct people than them having a voice for themselves. “I know better” is the mantra of a person that just wants to be in charge.
Being in charge manifests itself in power and plays out in small meetings, mostly behind the scenes. In contrast, leadership motivated by people and call is public and inviting. There is always time needed for smaller meetings and planning, but those have input and direction from everyone. One takes a lot more time and intention.
I HAVE A SPECIAL CONCERN FOR YOU CHURCH LEADERS. I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A LEADER, IN ON CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS AS WELL AS THE COMING GLORY. HERE’S MY CONCERN: THAT YOU CARE FOR GOD’S FLOCK WITH ALL THE DILIGENCE OF A SHEPHERD. NOT BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO, BUT BECAUSE YOU WANT TO PLEASE GOD. NOT CALCULATING WHAT YOU CAN GET OUT OF IT, BUT ACTING SPONTANEOUSLY. NOT BOSSILY TELLING OTHERS WHAT TO DO, BUT TENDERLY SHOWING THEM THE WAY.
Peter names this in his epistle as he encourages leaders to lead based on their love for people and not self–indulgence. He explains the posture of a leader being willing to suffer with and on behalf of people. Leadership, although not easy in any respect, will be celebrated by God himself.
"When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud; But takes delight in just plain people. So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you" (1 Peter 5:4-7, MSG).
If we focus our leadership toward God I believe we may begin to see the kingdom manifested in our midst. If we take our selfish ambition, which can creep up in any of us at any time, and transform into true passion for him, I think our leadership will have power beyond what we know, power outside of us that is from the spirit of God.
Leading is a longing for people and a vision for something better, and being in charge is for our own personal gratification and inflated sense of self. Whether we were trained to lead or if we have natural charisma, our motivation should be people and not ourselves. The road to leadership can be quite rocky and full of mistakes and pain, but when done with humility, the spirit of God, and motivated by people, it can truly change the world.