“I’m not a leader.”
If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that, I’d have a jar full of nickels. What people usually mean by that statement is that they don’t want to be in charge of something or they don’t want a leadership “position.” Sometimes, it means that they don’t want to be responsible or accountable for seeing that something gets done.
But, here’s the truth: every person reading this is a leader.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should have, or even aspire to, a leadership “position.” I am suggesting that everyone is leading someone. That is to say, someone is watching you and their next step will be affected by your current step.
Everyone is leading someone. Someone's next step will be affected by your current step. Click To Tweet
That’s this week’s lesson in my series of the most important lessons I’ve learned from 40 years of “church” work. Let me remind you, in case you’ve missed the previous couple of posts, that I’m convinced that these lessons are true regardless of your particular context. I’m just celebrating my 40 years in the church work context with this series of lessons.
Someone is watching you.
You may be keenly aware of that if you don’t have positional leadership. You know that your boss is watching you and that your opportunities for advancement, or even continued employment, may be affected by your behavior.
But have you considered that you may even be leading your boss? As one who has been the boss—though I really, really don’t like that designation—for more years than I have had a boss, I can tell you that some of the best steps I have ever taken were a result of watching those over whom I have had supervision. Positive actions by staff members have led me to take positive actions.
So, whether you have positional leadership or not, know that someone is watching and learning.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
I have to admit that this saying from Jesus used to stress me a bit. What if I mess up? What if I cause someone else to stumble? What if my behavior has a negative impact?
Sure, all that is possible.
But, now I have reframed it with these realities: My words, actions, and attitudes matter. My life has purpose because I am pointing to a purpose that is greater and higher than me. When I live most fully as who God intends me to be—the real me—I have the greatest potential for positive impact in the world. I don’t have to be “the leader” to lead.
I don't have to be THE LEADER to lead. Click To Tweet
So, here’s a recap of lessons so far. (1) Never stop learning. (2) You are leading someone.
Stay tuned for next time: The best leaders know how to follow.