Creating the Unlikely Leader
When I think of the perfect leader, a picture gets painted in my head. I envision a tall, strapping man in his early forties with a great haircut and a snug tailored suit. I see someone who is physically fit and smooth with his speech. This man is well educated, well connected, and well to do. He drives a nice car and lives in a house in the nice part of town. I bet he has a yard guy.
This leader has created systems and process to streamline his business. Everything rises and falls on him, as he is the boss. People do what he says. They depend on him. They look to him for guidance. He is the cog that keeps whatever machine he is apart of running. He oozes confidence.
The problem is the person that I just pictured in my head is not the biblical standard for leadership. Who I just described sounds like Saul, and we all know what happened to him.
While man looks at the outside, God looks at the heart. This world looks at education and wealth and status while God is fixed on faith, humility, and character.
My picture of leadership most definitely doesn’t sound like Jesus.
Jesus was poor and came from nothing. He was born on the wrong side of the tracks. Physically speaking, there was nothing special about him. For all we know, he traveled from place to place on foot and had no place to call home.
God has a habit of using unlikely people. Moses had a stutter. Mary had demons. David was the last son and a shepherd boy. Peter was a fisherman. Paul was a murderer.
God has a history of using people that society deems unworthy of leadership. He is constantly showing his power through those this world calls weak.
So what does that have to do with today? We live in a world where leadership has never been more needed. The harvest is plenty, but we can’t seem to identify enough leaders to help guide the workers to the harvest.
We need to start creating leaders instead of searching for the natural born leader. Yes, leadership can be difficult and intimidating. It takes maximum effort and hard work to lead well and to teach others to do the same. But it can be taught. Leadership is a skill that can be developed.
Part of the issue is that current leaders, myself included, seem too busy and impatient to develop the new wave of leaders. This causes an even bigger issue, which is no one is strong enough to carry the burden of leadership due to a lack of proper training and investment.
The greatest generation is getting older and they have no one qualified to take over what they’ve built. This is not the fault of the next generation. This is our fault. We are where we are today because we didn’t invest into them.
So what is the solution?
Stop looking for the next Saul and start investing into the next Mary or Moses. Leaders are not born, they are developed. More is caught than taught, so invite the younger employee who has hunger, humility, and smarts to hang around you as much as possible. Let them into your everyday actions and be intentional about sharing your observations, experiences, and thought processes. Encourage their hearts. Give feedback to their actions. Strengthen their confidence as you build a relationship with them.
Give up control and start delegating. Give them a chance to lead and be there to pick them up when they fall down. Stop focusing on you and start focusing on them. If you want an organization that will outlast you, you must start investing into your successor today. Toss aside the fears that you will become obsolete and start trusting that God will honor this process. After all, he is in control anyways.
Create unlikely leaders. God has shown a tendency to bless them and work through them. Intentionally invest into the youth, no matter what their pedigree is or what they look like. We no longer have the luxury to wait for the perfect leader to come along. We must work with what we got.
The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. We simply don’t have enough leaders for the work that lies before us. But we can do something about that. If you want to change the world, focus on raising up and empowering tomorrow’s leader. Equip them and give them a chance. Die to self and waste your life on them. Father them into their full potential. Trust that God will use you to create someone who can be used by him. Built something that you can give away. The fear is that you will work yourself out of a job, but in reality you’re setting them up for success. Either they will take your job as you go on to greener pastures or you stick around to watch as they go somewhere else and implement Godly leadership as they advance the kingdom through another avenue. Build and release when the timing comes.
If this plan sounds familiar, it’s because it is pretty similar to a plan used 2000 years ago when a guy named Jesus invested into twelve ordinary people. We are still enjoying the fruit of that labor thousands of years later. I believe it’s time to go back to that model. It’s time to raise up the next generation through the way of Jesus. Through the way of relationship and discipleship. We can save tomorrow by investing into others today.