Most of us don’t feel like leaders. When it comes to the “L” word, we believe that it must apply to someone else, but certainly not to us. We think of leaders as the people who have an important title and are in charge of lots and lots of people. We think of them as the ones who are always sharply dressed, super smart and walk around with a take no prisoners attitude.
And while these things might be hallmarks of a leader (emphasis on “might”), the truth is there are leaders of all shapes and sizes. True, we are not all called to be leaders of thousands, but I do believe that we all can be leaders.
First, we must lead ourselves. This, above all is probably the most challenging of all leadership tasks. The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.” The day we stop blaming others for our lot in life and start taking charge of our own emotions and actions is the day we start taking up the role of a leader.
People who lead themselves are constantly seeking to understand themselves more so that they are not hostages to their own out-of-control emotions. They seek out new experiences so that they can grow. They ask others to give them constructive feedback. They learn how to identify the warning signs of anger, depression and worry long before these destructive emotions have taken over, and they stop them dead in their tracks.
Second, we must lead the people around us. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the only leaders are the ones that have titles on their door or business card. Leadership is simply the ability to influence those around you. You don’t need a title to influence your friends -- you just need their trust.
I can’t emphasize this point enough. Too many times, we take a backseat in situations that are crying out for leadership because we say something silly like, “it’s not my job.” We take ourselves out of the game and sit on the bench without ever taking a shot.
This world is begging for people who will stand up and speak the truth. People who will say what needs to be said. People who will row against the current rather than just give up and float downstream.
You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room (actually, all the research shows that it is not great intelligence that makes for great leadership). You don’t have to be the person with the biggest paycheck. And you certainly don’t have to be the person wearing the nicest suit. Instead, you need to be willing to step out and take a swing.
The pastors in the Kings County would love to help you influence your family and community for the good. Why don’t you give them a chance this weekend?