Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Leader Inside

by Andrew Cromwell

I believe that everyone has a leader inside them. I don’t mean that everyone is destined to lead thousands, but rather that all of us have within the capacity to lead ourselves and influence others. John Maxwell says that leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less. He identifies leadership with influence because everyone has the potential to influence those around us.

The most powerful leaders are able to challenge people to stretch and grow not because they have the authority to hire and fire, but because they have earned people’s trust and have painted a picture of possibility. Think about it, some of the greatest leaders of the last century didn’t hold formalized positions of authority. Martin Luther King Jr., wasn’t an elected official and he didn’t lead a large business organization. Mother Teresa didn’t sign anybody’s paycheck. And Gandhi didn’t carry the keys to any boardroom (I’m not sure he had any pockets in that robe anyway).

Successful leaders first lead themselves and then invite other people to be and do something better too. It doesn’t matter if you have a formalized position of authority or not. All of us live in relationship with others and every encounter that we have with another person is an opportunity to influence their thoughts and feelings.

If you don’t think I’m right about this, take a moment to consider a person you know. I’m talking about that one person who, wherever they go, they just suck the air out of the room. Whenever you talk to them, you find that you are depressed and bitter. When you walk into a room, you know they have been there because everyone in the room is about to go jump of the nearest bridge.

We all know people like this, they are leaders in the area of negativity. They always have the perfect comeback phrase that brings rain clouds to any celebration. They influence people all around them and everywhere they go. But their influence points people in the wrong direction.

But it is a lot easier to be a downer then it is to be an encourager. It takes very little energy and effort to criticize a creative idea. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to calculate how you can destroy another person’s dream.

Encouraging people, on the other hand, takes energy and effort. It is hard work to get someone to see potential in themselves and inspire them to take positive steps. But each one of us can do it.

You see, in any given room the leader is not necessarily the smartest or the brightest. Often, they are not the most naturally gifted. But a leader has a burning desire to see people’s lives improved.

So whether or not you have the title “leader”, you can be a leader. Simply seek to add value to other people. Speak possibility into lives. Don’t raise a complaint, raise the standard. Carry joy around with you and sprinkle it on everyone you meet. Lead yourself first and others will follow.

The pastors in Kings County would love to add value to your life this weekend! Getting yourself and your family in church is a great way to either start or continue your leadership journey.

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