My mother-in-law described the leadership workshop she had once attended as a nightmare! “We were told we needed to lead from within, but I don’t know myself well enough to lead from within, so I wound up leaving in tears!” she told me. She wanted the quick answers, the passive intake of information. She didn’t want to do the inner work that would require resurrecting past failures and successes, an evaluation of her strengths and weaknesses, and a discovery process to understand her ways of thinking. It would be easier to copy someone else.
How important is it to know yourself as a leader? We may be able to grow as leaders by following basic principles or imitating the leadership of others, but to meet our true potential, we need to be open to diving into how God has made us unique. Understanding more about yourself will make you an authentic leader that people can trust.
Experiences: What experience or experiences have shaped you as a leader? I recall planting a church campus with my husband and how much time and energy it took to make it successful. There were no boundaries between home, church, work, and family. In fact, my son asked once if Daddy lived at church with our sound manager! It made me laugh, but it also stung. This experience shaped my leadership because I learned that I needed stronger boundaries to protect my home and family life. Today, I read work emails on my phone, but I have not enabled the ability to respond to them, requiring me to make a quick phone call if the matter is urgent or to simply wait until I’m back in the office to respond by email. This doesn’t seem to bother people; in fact, people have respected this boundary and appreciate that I’m authentically living out my calling to my family first when I’m at home.
Beliefs: As Believers in Christ, we all share many of the same core Biblical beliefs, but we have nuanced beliefs about life, people, and the world. Ask yourself what you believe about your neighborhood, yourself, your church, etc. For example, I believe each person has value that comes from God, and each person has knowledge or experience that is worth learning. This encourages me to spend time listening with an eager ear. It’s something that I have repeated to others, too, and when they hear me identifying my beliefs in a clear way for them, it helps them to understand why I lead small groups with plenty of sharing from the group, why I prefer one-on-one networking, and more.
Gifts: The Bible tells us that we are all given unique gifts to use in the building of the Kingdom. 1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” You may have the gift of hospitality and teaching, and your gifts can be used to lead a small Bible study group from your home. You may have the gift of mercy, and your gift is used in social work. Some are gifted as shepherds, and you may naturally gather and care for the people who follow you. Identifying your spiritual gift(s) helps others to see that God has a role in your leadership, and you are not leading from your own strength. It enables us to give God the glory and point back to Him!
Trying to imitate the leadership of our co-worker, our pastor, or our spouse can make us frustrated. When we lean into who God has created us and led us to be, our leadership will grow naturally and all on its own without struggle. You are called to a purpose that is your own! Lead fearlessly in the confidence that God knows you, loves you, and doesn’t need you to hide who you are in order to lead.