As a leader, I am often put into the role of deciding who does what and when. I invite people to participate in activities, serve of teams and lead groups of all different shapes and sizes.
I also participate in several forums with leaders of differing back grounds, ages, and leadership philosophies. One thing has become clear to me through my experiences as a leader and interacting with other leaders:
We have a clear picture in our head of who is qualified to lead and who is not.
Now, it may take you a little while to define your exact picture of a leader, but if we sat down over coffee you’d probably be able to share some attributes with me.
Maybe to you, a leader is charismatic, a great presenter and a risk taker. Or maybe, a leader is more deliberative, seeking input from others before charging ahead.
Yet I’m learning something and I think it’s a challenge to us all, especially those in church leadership.
Leaders come from the most unlikely of places, have some of the most unlikely of characteristics and will lead in unlikely ways. Yet too often I, and other leaders, get stuck in our own definitions. This leads us to, in the least, miss some people who have a lot to offer and, at our worst, we dismiss people because they don’t match our description of a leader.
In Jesus’ life, the religious leaders didn’t think he fit the bill either. In fact, multiple times they missed him. John 7:52 says “They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”
To the leaders he was an unlikely prophet, let alone the Messiah they had been waiting for.
The danger in having an exhaustive list of what leaders are or how they act is that we, like the religious leaders, miss people. We take them off the list because they’re quieter or empathetic. We miss the ways in which they lead everyday or try to make them lead in the way that we lead.
The leaders in Jesus’ time wanted a King. They were looking for a political leader who kept all their laws and validated their beliefs.
What they got was an unlikely Savior. One who broke their rules and reached beyond their borders.
Seeing that Jesus was misunderstood and written off I am challenged to look for unlikely leaders among the people I know and lead. The people who may not fit my limited ideal of what leadership looks like.
I think that if we, who make the picks, will open our hearts to hear the Spirit lead us to see the most unlikely of leaders; we will see Kingdom impacts in ways that we can not even imagine!
Leaders, who have you written out of the leadership book? Maybe it’s time to look in the unlikely places or for the unlikely people.