There is a short, profound, and yet simple, statement in the book of James: “…yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:2b (NLT) Underlining is mine.
I want to expand on the idea about “asking” by suggesting that leadership--good leadership, visionary leadership, leadership that is really making a difference--has “asking” at its core.
The kind of leader who truly, and lastingly, makes a difference is a leader who asks. This leader asks in three arenas. Let me unpack them, if I may, and I trust that it will be helpful for you as it is to me:
Asking Big Things From God
Biblical leadership begins by believing and asking big things from God. We read in Psalm 2:8: (NLT) “Only Ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.” Underlining is mine. Wow, now that is asking big. Jeremiah 33:3 is another Old Testament verse that comes to mind, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” (NLT) Underlining is mine.
We serve an awesome, powerful God who wants to do amazing things for his kids, his leaders, so we should ask big. If your “ask” list--what you desire to accomplish for God’s honor and glory--doesn’t scare you, you are asking too little and thinking too small. What is the biggest thing you have ever asked God to do? JB Philips, an English author, wrote a book titled, “Your God is Too Small.” It’s still available on Amazon.
We have a big, not a small God…ask BIG!!!
Asking Big Things From Yourself
I believe leaders are capable of much more than they think they are. The Lord wants to empower all his leaders to achieve great things for the Kingdom. Our frustrations, challenges, discouragements and failures cause us to lose hope, lose vision, and lose sight of what we are truly capable of, with God’s help.
With his help we need to challenge ourselves to greater levels of accomplishment and fruitfulness--to live up to our full potential, whatever that may be.
I am motivated to be all that God has in mind for me to be--not less, not what somebody else is doing--but what he has in mind for me and what he has gifted and equipped me to be able to do.
Every athletic coach tries to bring out the best and highest in their players. Every music teacher wants to bring out the best in their students. Both will push their players and students beyond what they think they can do to accomplish what they have the ability and capacity to do.
Most of us sell ourselves short. Mary Kay Ash said: “Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.” I trust that will not be true of you and I certainly don’t want it to be true of me.
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take the responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:45 (The Message) I just love this!
Asking Big Things From Others
I trust that what you are doing is in the context of a team so that you can accomplish more and give others the thrill of working together on some big dreams. With these people I want to encourage you to ask big things of them as well. I believe people want to rise, and will rise, to the level of their leader’s expectation and vision.
Generally, people want to accomplish things bigger than themselves. They want to make a significant contribution…leave a lasting legacy. To do this, they need a little gentle prodding from their leader.
I believe there are people on teams (on your team) who would do more, do it with a higher standard of excellence and do it consistently if it was asked for and expected from them. In many cases there are people who are not doing much--or much that really excites and energizes them--because no one has ever asked them.
What are you asking from your people? What are you expecting from them? If you expect and ask for little, you may just get it. If you expect and ask for a lot--because you believe in them, truly love them and trust them--you may just get it!
- You have not because you ask not!
- What are you asking from God?
- What are you asking from yourself?
- What are you asking from others?
- Are you asking for and expecting too little?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain