A Definition of Leadership

salt-feature-1A lot of books have been written on leadership.

I’ve written here on Leadership in the Kingdom, Why God Uses Leaders, and Old Testament Leadership Examples.

In the books I’ve read though I rarely see a good definition of leadership.

Secular books often assume everyone knows what leadership is and therefore do not define it.

Christian books invariable define leadership exclusive as “servant leadership.”

A definition is in order then, and after a big cup of cappuccino I feel worthy of the task.

Leadership is the ability to influence people to do that which they would not otherwise do on their own. Moving a company in a certain direction, getting the best work out of subordinate employee, and persuading a non-Christan friend to visit your church are all examples of leadership.

Leadership is, at its most fundamental level, influence. When one understand this it becomes clear that defining Christian leadership solely as “servant leadership” is to define leadership too narrowly.

When Jesus taught His disciples about leadership He never suggested servant-leadership was the exclusive means by which to lead. It should always be the overriding motivation, but it is not the sole method.

Even today when you ask non-Christians about leadership they will immediately go to examples of those in authority. Jesus was saying to His disciples that they didn’t need to be in positions of authority to lead. Jesus’ words were imperative because the disciples would not be in positions of authority in a hostile pagan controlled Roman Empire or in a Jewish dominated culture; they would have to learn to influence people by serving them, just as Jesus had done.

If leadership is influence, then it is not limited to leading from positions of authority or by serving people. Once can lead from above, below, beside or even behind others. A charismatic personality is not required–only an obedient heart. Moses tried the “I’m not charismatic enough excuse” and God rejected it. (Exod. 4:10-13)

Jesus said that those who followed Him were the salt of the earth and the light of the word. (Matt. 5:13-16). This is another way of saying that all Jesus-followers are called to be influencers, which is another way of saying all Christians are called to be leaders.  GS

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