“Each of you is a leader!”
Recently this has become a theme, practically a mantra, whether it is in businesses, schools, or churches. Entrepreneurial efforts have become popularized as people seek to lead their own business or ministry. Hundreds and thousands of books have been written on the subject, seminars are held, and tests are given. Leadership is the thing.
But as the old adage goes, you can’t lead if nobody is following.
Obviously, not everyone is a leader. In fact, not even most people would qualify as leaders. But the mindset of “I am a leader” prevails, which has a striking effect. Numerous people are leading nobody in spite of their desire to lead, and they are following nobody precisely because of their desire to lead.
Leadership, as defined by all realities, is limited. Only a few can lead in any given circumstance. It can be positional or it can organic, but it is always a small number of people. Do the math. It rules out most of us in most circumstances. Constantly aspiring to leadership can lead to conflict, egotism, and frustration as we all try to cram ourselves through a bottleneck and into a leadership role. Simply put, not everyone is a leader nor should everyone be a leader.
But everyone is an influencer. The fewest number of people in the tiniest of roles in the smallest of moments can influence. It can be had without words and without a position of authority. It can be had on those in authority over us or in positions reporting to us. Influence is what every person should emphasize.
Leadership is a gift, a set of abilities given by God and developed through circumstances brought about by God to make a person uniquely prepared to, well, lead. Influence is simply faithfulness at work. It is the work of the Holy Spirit through a person on others. It can be subtle or bold, spoken or acted.
One of the main reasons people aspire to leadership is to make a difference, so they scramble and grapple and hustle and rush in order to get to the top. This pursuit often starts for a good reason-to make positive change-but usually ends in a pitched battle or political sniping. But influence is not a competition; it is faithfulness at work. And influence can occasionally end up as leadership, but the best influencer doesn’t set out to do so.
So seek to influence by faithfully working. Influence up and influence down, and influence our fellow followers. The influence we have can be one the main tools God uses to do His work, and to make a difference.
This column originally appeared at WORLD News Group’s website (wng.org). Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2012 WORLD News Group. All rights reserved.