Saturday, July 22, 2006

Leaders and leading

I've had the opportunity in recent days to think over leadership. I've been pleased to find that certain things I thought were essential in theory have been proved to be critical in reality. But I've also realized that some of very things (one of which I'll discuss below) is not something that I've actively put into practice.

How do leaders lead? Well, by influence, of course. If you have no influence, you have no followers. If you have no followers, you are not leading. It's that simple, really.

But how do they lead beyond their immediate circle of influence? In other words, how does a leader expand his/her sphere of leadership beyond the handful of people that he can directly influence? By developing other leaders.

Leadership follows a cycle. It is born, it grows, and it recreates itself. Quite simply, if a leader fails to develop new leaders, if a leader fails to recreate leadership in others, then his leadership is doomed to a very short life-cycle.

It's easy enough to see this in the Scriptures. Take Jesus, for instance. For three years He ministered to the people in Galilee, Jerusalem, and surrounding areas. But while He was ministering, He was also developing a ragtag group of twelve bumblers into a group of leaders that would turn the world upside down one day.

Beyond the Scriptures, church history also tells us that the Disciples themselves also recreated the same leadership in others that Jesus had created in them. The Twelve, in turn, discipled others. They showed them--by teaching and by example--what it meant to be a church leader. The Twelve, like Jesus, also realized that they must invest in future leaders. Though it's something of an over-simplification, it is nevertheless true that the Twelve mentored the Ante-Nicene Fathers, the Ante-Nicene Fathers the Post-Nicene Fathers, the Post-Nicene Fathers in turn gave what they had to others who followed them. Christianity would certainly not have survived without leaders begetting leaders.

I believe it remains the same today. As I lead, I must also be careful, be deliberate about developing new leaders. And I realize that thus far I've had good intentions. I've developed leaders as the opportunity came to me, but I wasn't deliberate. That must change in me, as it must in any leader.

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