“When did I become a leader?”
I had that question asked to me via text message last night by a teenage friend of mine. I had mentioned to her about how a little prayer ministry she was championing didn’t have anybody except little old me show up this past week while she had been away. “But I don’t want people doing something just because I want them to do it,” she said. “I want them to want to do it themselves!”
How common is that desire in the heart of so many people. We find something we are passionate about, we bring in some others and they seem to love it too, but the moment we take a break or miss a meeting or ask them to step up for themselves, no one shows up. And immediately, at least for me and (I think) my friend here, we get kicked into this “well maybe it’s not such a great idea if no one else really wants to do it” mode.
I pulled a thought from Andy Stanley’s book, Visioneering, out for my friend last night. Leaders see what should be, and what could be, and they go after it. They see things well before others do, whether it’s a need that they can meet, a problem that they might be able to solve, or just a passion they can set their heart on, and they go after it. They inspire others to come along side of them, and even if those people don’t totally “get it” right away, they care enough about both the concern and the person whom is concerned about it to make it important to them, too.
So what do we do when suddenly, one day, nobody shows up? When they forget? When their passion begins to fade? When we suddenly look around and realize we’re the only one doing the work again, and it feels like we’re just dragging others along on our ride, or that perhaps they’re trying to get off? Do we quit? Find something new? Go all introspective and wonder, “was it really meant to be?”
I tried to share with my friend that just because others forget, doesn’t mean it’s not important to them. Yes, they may have some growing to do to make this a priority in their life, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want it to be a priority. And that’s when I told her those words… “you’re that leader.” Essentially, you started this, like it or not. You initiated it. You’re driving the ship. Others want to be on that ship, and they may specifically look to you in the upcoming weeks to see how you’ll handle a week off, and a week with a bit of a let down, now that it’s past. Will you let go, and demonstate to those around you that this really wasn’t as imnportant (not just to you) as you made it out to be? Or will you press in, invite them back, and act like what you are doing is important enough to do, regardless of whether or not it’s a priority to anyone else.
BECAUSE IT IS.
You’ve seen what could be. You’ve seen what should be. What needs to be. And you’ve gotten a hint of how to make it be. Whether that means praying before a service for freedom to express yourselves in worship, holding hands to gain courage to lift your hands while singing, or walking up to an “old person” and asking them why they frown and stick their hands in their pockets when they’re singing “joyful joyful we adore thee,” you’ve found something that you feel needs to be changed. And there are others there behind you, both itching to see what you care about succeed, and at the same time a little apprehensive to jump in with both feet because they too, are afraid of being let down again.
When did you become a leader?
When you discovered what should be, thought about how it could be, and invited others to join you to make it be. In other words… When you started leading.
I loved hearing that question last night, and even more now that I think about it. So many “leaders” get there because that’s what they want to do… “Lead.” They become leaders because they want followers, not because they’ve discerned a passion on their heart and choose to follow it wholeheartedly, regardless of their following. Wholehearted people attract others, because most of us are wandering around with empty hearts, half-filled hearts, or hearts filled with false truths and lies that we’d just love to see replaced with a truth that inspires and motivates.
I’ve found one of the main things that causes me to want to follow someone is just that: their ability to motivate and inspire me. Not with some fancy idea or great sales pitch, but with a life that is 100% authentic and sold out to a cause bigger than themselves. They do what they do because it’s important. To them. To their understanding of life. To their understanding of eternity. What they do now matters for eternity, and they “get that.” Whether people follow them or not, they know what is important, and they go after it, abandoning all else that might hold them back.
So to my good friend who may be a little discouraged or let down that nobody except little old me showed up last week, I hope I can reassure you: What you are doing is important. Others want to do it as well, and you are an inspiration to them to the point that they’ll do it.
Each of them will come around or they won’t, but they’ll have to do it in their own way. You, on the other hand, can only determine the actions of one person… and those decisions you make to stick with it or go find something new to do will greatly affect the influence you have over others… because they (we) are watching you.
You have what it takes. God is jealous for you to the point that He wants your whole heart, and won’t let you live a life where you share it between Him and others. He wants to be your portion, your strength, and the motivation that drives you each day.