The Essential Leader I

(NOTE: On occasion I will delve into a serious subject and that is the case this week. I’ll do this usually when something has happened  to bring a particular issue to the forefront. Enjoy your day!)

Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me”. Thus has Christ defined the essential ingredient of a leader. Regardless of what role a leader is in, he must be able to deny his own wants and desires to follow a higher calling. I believe that leading people is a gift and a responsibility.

It is a gift because, despite what some would say, not all of us are called to be leaders. Not all of us are intended to take such a responsibility. It is a gift and a privilege from God Himself to be able to take care of people and set a standard that others would want to follow. It is not an easy job and certainly not a job for anybody with an inflated view of himself. One must be able and willing to seek the needs of those around him ahead of his own. The personal desires of a leader must never, ever, take precedence over the group he leads. To do otherwise is a failure to lead.

It is a responsibility because, as the late President Truman said, “the buck stops here.” It is, in the final analysis, the leader’s actions and attitudes that result in failure or success. I submit to you, though, that the real responsibility lies with how leadership takes care of the people under his charge. It matters not whether he is leading a squad of soldiers into combat or a committee of volunteers running a networking event. He must set the standard for all to follow and he must make sure the people under his charge are taken care of and find value in what they are doing. When those two ingredients are met, the group goals will almost certainly be achieved.

In the course of my almost 55 years, I have had opportunity to lead soldiers, blue collar crews, over-the-road drivers, and now a group of people charged to manage a networking event. Whether the gift of leadership rests with me or not, I cannot say, and I surely would not be so arrogant to state that I have all the answers on the subject. Leadership for me creates far more questions than answers. There is the constant question of whether I am allowing my own desires to get in the way of the goals of the group. Then there is the matter of ensuring the group knows where  they need to go and how  to get there. In all of this each individual must understand their role in the group and find value in it. The term servant-leader is useful here. A leader serves those around him and, as a result, is able to bring them with him to an ultimate goal.

A warning sign is when groups become defined by the leader. That happens in churches a lot and even more in political organizations. It can NEVER be about the leadership!!! It has to be about service to one another. Yes, somebody has to be in charge, setting the standard and leading the way. A leader is a leader because he is able to do that but the group cannot be successful when it is defined by its leader. It will eventually become ego driven and centered on the leader instead of where the group needs to go.

Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

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