As I climbed the stairs this morning to wake up the girls, I started calling out to them before entering their rooms, hoping to get a head start to rouse them on a Friday morning after a busy week. We are usually dragging on Friday, but I was quickly surprised when Whitley rolled over and proclaimed, “I am the leader today.” The kid who has a hard time remembering what she was told to do or not to do five minutes ago easily remembered overnight that she was the leader at preschool today. That means that she was at the first of the line, got to hold the flag during the pledge, got to pick out the song of the day, and lots of other things that are attractive to a four-year-old.
There are days when I wake up and my proclamation of “I am the leader today” is said with more dread than excitement. Many tasks of leadership are not pleasant or just become burdensome with their repetition.
Our society today is facing a leadership crisis. We have a President that plays golf and ignores the needs of the nation and the world. Businesses are failing due to failure on the part of their executives. Families are falling apart due to the lack of interest in parents in fulfilling their roles; of course, some families appear to have it all together but due to the parents failure to be involved in the spiritual development of their children, they will face struggles down the road. Most churches have plateaued or declined due to a leadership issue.
Every organization has people in leadership, but the problem is that the leaders do not lead. People have been placed in leadership by default or because they met hierarchical demands but they lack the primary criteria of leadership: influence. True leaders are leaders because they can actually lead people.
I have recently experienced and had conversations with other pastors who have also experienced people who have no influence desiring leadership capacities. The church I grew up in would have placed these people in any position they wanted and celebrated the fact that someone wanted to “serve” in the capacities. I think we have matured, though, to understand that without influence, a person cannot lead.
I believe that all people have influence, if in no other place than at home, where leadership is needed the most. The problem comes when our actions destroy our influence. The husband that does not love his wife as Christ loved the church loses his influence at home and will not lead. The parents whose lives on Sunday do not match the rest the week lose influence and will not lead his children. The pastor who sees himself as superior to his church members and is not involved in their lives loses the influence that comes with the position and cannot lead his church. The business executive that places impossible demands on his employees, loses influence and leadership. The church member that always grumbles and causes disunity within the church has not influence, nor leadership, in the church. I could go on and on.
The need for leadership in our world will only be filled if we use our influence under the direction of the Holy Spirit, realizing that we cannot separate leadership from our daily lives. Leadership is not what we do, it is who we are.
To follow the example of Jesus, leadership is modeled through service. Leadership is not about a position, it is about using our influence to serve.