Relax! You don’t have to be a leader

Jeffery Gosnell Leadership

A few years ago, my church was using its Sunday school hour to present a video series on leadership. Each week, this series addressed one of the “laws” of leadership. These laws were said to be “undeniable,” and one of the qualifiers to these laws was that everyone can learn and master them. In other words, the series taught everyone is a leader.

Week-after-week, this video series put forth qualities of leadership that I knew I didn’t possess. Not possessing them filled me with a sense of inadequacy and laziness for not working harder to possess them. As I sat in this class each week, I was beaten down by my own failure to live up to these standards.

Then one morning, I was struck with a thought that freed me from all that negativity—I’M NOT A LEADER! Furthermore, I realized I didn’t have to be a leader. Suddenly, the burden of being a leader was lifted from my shoulders, and I knew I could stop pretending and start being who I really am—I’M A TEACHER!

Now, there were people who immediately (and quite harshly) opposed my position. They argued that everyone leads some one at some time—parents lead their children, peers lead other peers as need arises, and teachers, they insisted, lead their students. They demanded you can’t be a teacher without being a leader.

However, this modern redefinition of leadership runs contrary to Scripture! Just read Romans 12:4-8 (NIV):

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Two things jump out to me in this passage. First, we are given these gifts. We don’t choose them for ourselves. While, we can benefit from learning about leadership, no amount of training can change our gifting. We are who we were made to be.

Second, these gifts are likened to parts of a human body. There is design and purpose for each gift. Now, that’s not to say we can’t temporarily play other roles. I’ve pushed elevator buttons with my foot, when my hands were full. I’ve closed car doors with my hip. It worked in both cases, but it is so much better when my hands, that were created for these tasks, are free to do them. A teacher can have moments of leadership. A leader can take a moment to encourage. But the gifting will always flow naturally, whereas, other areas takes an effort of will.

Are you trying to fill a role you’re not suited for? RELAX! You don’t have to be what you’re not. Be what you are, and let the other things fall into place. If your foot stops pushing elevator buttons, it’s not panicking over who’s going to take it’s place. God gave you a couple of hands to step up and do the job.

Of course, this blog isn’t an admonition to just quit what you’re doing and walk away. It’s about finding where your gifting lies and serving in those areas best suited for you. You don’t have to feel guilty for not being something you’re not. Be who God made you to be—and just relax!