Friday, February 26, 2010


Yesterday I posted a question on FaceBook "does a leader need permission to lead?" This is not the first time I have posted this question either on FaceBook or on some other forum and I am always intrigued by the answers I get to that question. A number of things prompted this question this time. I am often prompted by a young person commenting on young people not being allowed or asked to be in leadership positions. Last week I was in a meeting with my Bishop where he talked about the lack of leadership in our Conference and the need to develop leaders that will take us into the future for the health of our church. I have been reflecting on that ever since and wondering about the number and quality of leaders in our Conference.

The first question I posted asks about who my FaceBook friends viewed as leaders in our Conference. I expected to start getting quick responses with names and maybe a story or two about how that person leads in their local church, District or the Conference or maybe even in the community in which they live. I knew that I would get some of our elected or appointed leaders included on that list such as the Bishop, District Superintendents and Conference elected leaders but was hoping that I would get a list of others that we viewed as leading us. I also hoped to see some names that I didn't know who they were and learn about how there is vast and great leadership in our Conference. It was not to be. There was almost no response and only one name I didn't already know.

This morning I spent some time looking at the definitions related to leadership and they are found at the end of this article if you are interested. While it can be a position or an office I would hope that those we choose to be leaders would be capable of leading! The first definition of the word lead is to guide on a way especially going in advance, in other words, breaking new ground, finding new paths and looking for new ways of getting somewhere or getting something done.

There seems to be a fear mentality that is pervasive not just in our churches but in many of our communities. We are afraid to step out and try something new or that might fail. We are afraid to break new ground, learn something new or take a different route. The fact is if you want to be a leader you can't wait for someone else to give you permission, tell you how or where to go, you have to lead the way!

The hard part is the risk we must take to lead and many of us are not willing to take the risk of rejection or pay the cost of doing something that might fail. As a Conference we are desperate for leaders, clergy and lay, which will take those risks and maybe even fail. It is not enough to call for change, ask others why we are not doing something to bring us to new life, or complain that someone else isn't doing what needs done for the church to be healthy. Believe me, I know how hard it is to lead but I also know that I have no right to complain about others when I am not willing to take the risks of leadership myself.

Years ago when I was thinking of running for school board someone ask me if I really thought I could make a difference very clearly believing I could not. My response was "I don't know but I know that sitting at home on the couch I will never make a difference and maybe it was time I took the chance that I might make a difference."

We call ourselves Christian, little Christ, and Jesus was a great model for us as one that took risks to make a difference in the community. He was often rejected by the appointed and elected leaders, at times by the people, but He made a difference that affects us yet today in so many ways.
How might you be being called to be a leader?

Lead·er·ship Pronunciation: \ˈlē-dər-ˌship\, Function: noun, Date: 1821, 1: the office or position of a leader 2 capacity to lead 3 the act or an instance of leading 4:leaders.

Lead·er Pronunciation: \ˈlē-dər\Function: noun Date: 14th century 1: something that leads: as a: a primary or terminal shoot of a plant b: tendon, sinew c plural : dots or hyphens (as in an index) used to lead the eye horizontally :
ellipsis 2 d chiefly British: a newspaper editorial e (1) : something for guiding fish into a trap (2) : a short length of material for attaching the end of a fishing line to a lure or hook f: loss leader g: something that ranks first h: a blank section at the beginning or end of a reel of film or recorded tape 2: a person who leads: as a: guide, conductor b (1) : a person who directs a military force or unit (2) : a person who has commanding authority or influence c (1) : the principal officer of a British political party (2) : a party member chosen to manage party activities in a legislative body (3) : such a party member presiding over the whole legislative body when the party constitutes a majority d (1) :
conductor c (2) : a first or principal performer of a group 3: a horse placed in advance of the other horses of a team — lead·er·less \-ləs\ adjective.

Lead Pronunciation: \ˈlēd\ Function: verb Inflected Form(s): led \ˈled\; lead·ing Etymology: Middle English leden, from Old English ̄dan; akin to Old High German leiten to lead, Old English līthan to go Date: before 12th century transitive verb 1 a: to guide on a way especially by going in advance b
: to direct on a course or in a direction c: to serve as a channel for <a pipe leads water to the house> 2: to go through : live <lead a quiet life> 3 a (1) : to direct the operations, activity, or performance of <lead an orchestra> (2) : to have charge of <lead a campaign> (3) : to suggest to (a witness) the answer desired by asking leading questions b (1) : to go at the head of <lead a parade> (2) : to be first in or among <lead the league> (3) : to have a margin over <led his opponent> 4: to bring to some conclusion or condition <led to believe otherwise> 5: to begin play with <lead trumps> 6 a: to aim in front of (a moving object) <lead a duck> b: to pass a ball or puck just in front of (a moving teammate)intransitive verb
1 a: to guide someone or something along a way b: to lie, run, or open in a specified place or direction <path leads uphill> c: to guide a dance partner through the steps of a dance 2 a: to be first b (1) :begin, open (2) : to play the first card of a trick, round, or game 3: to tend toward or have a result <study leading to a degree> 4: to direct the first of a series of blows at an opponent in boxing.

Definitions in this article can be found at

1 comment:

Greg Cox said...

Not always about permission. Sometimes its about authority to lead. Authority is sometimes granted, earned, given, and sometimes it is something that goes along with the job and the responsibility to lead. Not all people are leaders. Just because there are people in positions called pastor does not mean that they have the gifts to lead. Others are managers and not leaders, some are leaders and not managers.