There has been a lot of talk lately about the lack of leadership in a number of organizations I am involved in including the church. I hear complaints about the lack of those that are willing or able to step up to be effective leaders. In our Conference we talk about our pastors needing to be faithful, fruitful and effective leaders but at the same time we complain that there are so few. Is anyone asking the question "Why are there so few leaders today?"
During the fall sports season I have been watching our kid's football and volleyball teams, professional baseball and professional and college football teams. The thing that I notice that is different between the victors and the losers is that there is a leader on the field of play for those teams that stay together and win. After years of coaching a number of sports as well as often being asked to provide some kind of leadership in many of the organizations I have been a part of I have been asking myself why some step up as leaders and others seem to fear that role. The truth is that the coach can teach and encourage but at some point must leave the team in the hands of the on field players that are in the trenches and the leaders must take the risk of stepping up and leading from the middle of the action.
It is very clear to me that all leaders are not the ones that show up on paper, are asked to be leaders by the coach, pastor or Bishop, but those that are willing to take the risk of failure, embarrassment or even their way of life. If we want to make a difference in the place in life God has brought us to then we must be willing to step up and lead and develop other leaders along the way.
Webster defines a leader as "a person who leads." To lead means to "direct by going before or along with, to guide by influence, to show the way by going before." When I think back over my life I have experienced many leaders, most of whom I didn't think of them as a leader along the way. They travelled the journey of life beside me or lead the way as I learned new skills or ways of doing things. Many times that meant that they had to at some point allow me the freedom to do it my way and to allow me to fail without fear. I have found that many of those that provided me with the greatest leadership were not those that were placed above me in a position but those that were willing to invest in me as a person. I can think of many I have learned from that worked for me, were my students, or that I coached as I encouraged them to challenge me and make me think in new ways. I continue to learn from the churches I am called to lead as pastor by continuing to listen and encourage questions and feedback even when it is difficult to hear.
I believe there are far more leaders out there than we are willing to admit at times. I have heard a number of those that are placed in leadership positions complain that there just aren't enough leaders out there today. At the same time I hear many complaining that they are not given the permission to lead. I think both are simply wrong. Too many of us are waiting for permission when real leaders take the risk to lead even when it means that others are upset or there is a cost to that leadership. Others of us are afraid to allow someone to lead when we think we may not be able to control what they do and again what it might cost us. The mark of the true leader is the one that takes the risk and leads the way and is willing to pay the cost of leading. Each of us has the opportunity to provide leadership wherever God takes us. Are you willing to be all God wants you to be and take the risk of being a true leader today?