This morning, a young man sat in my office, grappling with his calling as a leader.
Isaiah (pseudonym) is naturally gifted as a shepherd, people-pleaser, go-with-the-flow guy. His peers naturally gravitate towards him and look up to him. Yet, he sometimes lacks clarity regarding when and where he should take the “bull by the horns” and rise to leadership.
His struggle is not unfamiliar to me.
Throughout life, I’ve been a leader who would prefer to “lay low,” avoid the spotlight, and use care when “imposing” my decisions on others. At times, I have even “demoted” myself to try and realign with my purpose. Is this wiring contradictory to my calling as a leader?
Leadership scholars have long debated whether leadership requires certain universal skills. Must leaders possess vision, charisma, strategy or decisiveness? While certain skills may be important, I hold that God never intended for all leaders to be carbon copies of one another. 1 Corinthians 12 shows that God created each member of the body with unique gifts to serve different functions. He has hardwired each one of us for specific purposes.
Am I suggesting that we never have to grow as leaders? Certainly not!
I propose, however, that instead of spending all our effort trying to become something we’re not, we surround ourselves with others who have the gifts we lack. We “hire to our weakness” as some say.
Given this discussion, to what degree does leadership require decisiveness? I would say it depends. It seems God often chose indecisive leaders to accomplish great things (Moses, Ruth, and Jonah come to mind). Further, decision-making looks different depending on context. In sub-Saharan Africa, decisions are much more consensus-driven than in the West (which some view as too “soft”).
As I sat with Isaiah, I suggested that while God may be asking him to rise to the next level of maturity, this does not mean he has to become someone he is not.
Is your leadership overbearing, or indecisive? How might you surround yourself with others who can temper your gifts?
Daniel Gluck serves as Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Jessup, and Lead Faculty for the B.A. in Christian Leadership program.