Leadership: The Greatest Calling

Whether leaders are born or made is irrelevant. If you have that ability, then you’re obligated to develop it and to exercise it.

To whom much is given, much will be required. Or as it says in the Bible:


“ . . . If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously . . .’

Romans 12:8


You are accountable

All of us have certain God-given gifts. They vary by type, category, and measure.

Some have gifts that are completely different from others. The multitude of academic and vocational disciplines testifies to this.

There also is considerable overlap among them. Some have the same gifts as others, to a greater or lesser extent.

Your responsibility, however, isn’t so much what others have, unless, of course, they are in your charge. Instead, it extends to the full measure of your ability.

No more; no less.

The one who has less is responsible for less. The one who has more is responsible for more. Your responsibility extends to the measure of the gifts you’ve been given, but is also limited by it.

The one who has less isn’t accountable for failing to use his gifts to the same extent as the one who has more, neither will the one who has more be let off the hook for exercising it less.


Competence accompanies gifts

You must find contentment in the gifts you’ve been given. Don’t hanker after things that others have.

How many people have you seen in your life who are trying to be something that clearly theyre not?

Society is filled with them.

You should be also be content to exercise the measure of the ability that you’ve been given. The antithesis of this is seen in the Peter principle - rising to the level of your incompetence.

You should never try to fulfill a role for which you’re incompetent.

It’s been said, however, that everyone is incompetent for the first six months in any job, though that may be an exaggeration. It does take time to become acquainted with the routines, policies, and procedures, but none of that is an excuse for the inability to do the work.

If you’re incapable, then you shouldn’t be doing it at all.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with obtaining the training you need to develop greater ability. That’s part of developing your gifts; but when it becomes apparent that further growth isn’t possible for you, then you need to be humble enough to recognize it and content in the knowledge that you’ve developed yourself to the extent possible.

Gifts aren’t given in isolation. You’re not given only one, and then told to get on with it. Complementary gifts are given along with the primary ones. That’s because all of them are needed to make the primary one effective.

For example, if you want to be a pilot, then among many other things you have to have spatial awareness, some mechanical intuition, be able to listen to a number of people talking at the same time about different things, possess good judgement, and be able to remain calm under pressure so you can fly the plane even in an emergency. Having sufficient spatial awareness to pack your boot or load the dishwasher, however, doesn’t mean that you have the “right stuff.”

Or, if you want to be a salesman, then you need to be able to do more than just talk a lot. You have to have an appropriate amount of self-confidence, understand the benefits of your product or service, and grasp all the ways that you can help your customers. But just thinking of yourself in a balanced way won’t enable you to succeed in sales.


You’re expected to serve others with your gifts

Not only are you expected to and indeed responsible for developing your gifts fully, you must do it in order to serve others. It’s why we’re given different gifts. It’s because someone needs your expertise, just as you need theirs.

No man (or woman) is an island.


Leadership is a gift

Leadership is among those gifts.

The ability to lead is a gift, and so is the ability to be led.

Sometimes a lot of discernment is required to know the difference, however it’s also true that there will be times when you have to do both, either simultaneously or periodically.

Not only that, but there may be times when the led should lead, and when those who lead, should follow.

A perfect example of this is within a team. Each member could be the leader depending on the project they’re working on, and the role they’re in.

Some are born with more leadership aptitude than others, but they fail to develop it or exercise it. That leaders, or those who exhibit leadership qualities, have willing followers proves this. Leaders without followers is an oxymoron.


How do you know if one of your gifts is to lead?

How do you know if you have the gift of leadership?

Well, you already know that true leaders have willing followers, and so that means that when you choose a particular path, one that requires the cooperation of others to enable you to pursue it, that there will always be people who choose to follow you as a result.

This may come about because you ask someone to do something that you need them to do in order for you to accomplish your goal. It’s not that you won’t coerce or threaten them. Instead, you invite them to be involved, and if they willingly accept, then that means that you’re exercising leadership.

Now it’s important to clarify something here.

Leadership is always an activity. It’s something that you do. It’s never a job title or even a job description.

It’s action.

Anyone can lead.

Anyone can engage in activities that will cause others to want to follow.

That you’re in a leadership position doesn’t make you a leader. And that seems to be something that’s often overlooked.

Just as some are able to lead, but won’t, so there are others who apparently aren’t “classified” as leaders, but who do it anyway.

Children are like this. It’s amazing what they can do before someone tells them that they can’t.

And so really, it’s an unhelpful question to ask if you have the gift to lead.

Leaders take action.

They do what they think is necessary.

They recognize the skills that others have and that they need in order to complete projects that others don’t want to undertake, and they invite those people to help them do it.

And as pursue their goals, the evidence that they’re leading is that there are others who willingly follow them by helping them to do it.

When you experience that, then you know that, at least as far as that particular project is concerned, you’re leading; that you have the gift of leadership.

You may not always have it, but at least for the time when that willing cooperation is present, you can know that it’s there.


Leaders follow

There will be times when as a leader, it’s necessary for you to follow

You see, leadership isn’t an all or nothing activity.

When you lead, you also follow to a greater or lesser extent. That is, you listen to what your followers say, and then act accordingly. And it’s that give and take between you that makes leadership what it is.

If those who “follow” you don’t do it because they delight to do so, and all you do is bark out orders, then their suggestions will fall on your deaf ears.

But if you’re listening to those who follow you, then it’s because you care about what they think, you want to do what’s best for them as well as achieve your goals, and you value their input.

Wise leaders implement much of what their followers suggest. That’s how they know that you’re listening.


Lead diligently

What does it mean to lead diligently?

It means more than just to “do your duty,” or to be committed to doing so faithfully.

You could act in such a way as to get people to follow you willingly without trying to do your very best. Indeed, all too often, this is the case.

Some people, when they exercise leadership, do only the minimum. They only do as much as is necessary to get the cooperation that they want, and they’ll do or say almost anything as long as it gives them the results they desire.

That’s not diligent leadership. It’s pretending.

To lead diligently means that you do so, not only with urgency, but also with eagerness. You take delight not only in achievement, but also in the development of the gifts of others who help you to do it.

That means that diligence is an attitude, too; one that adds strength to your motives.

The ultimate motive is to develop and exercise your leadership gift because it was given to you for that purpose; but diligence adds depth.

If you weren’t diligent, you might “lead” haphazardly. One week you might engage in it earnestly and then the next, as if it didn’t matter.

The thing is that is the whenever you use your gifts, whether it’s in leadership or anything else, it always matters.


What impact would does diligent leadership have on your organization?

For one thing, people know that you’re reliable and dependable. You’ll always be there for them. You’ll always protect them and do what’s best for them.

They know that you won’t sacrifice them at the altar of profit, image, or political correctness.

Everyone in your organization knows that you have to use the resources you have wisely and responsibly. If you’re in the private sector, then profit matters, and they know that; but they also know that if you didn’t pay them properly that you’d have no profit whatsoever.

If you’re in the public sector, then they also know that you have a budget within which you must accomplish all that you’ve been tasked to do.

But whether you’r in the private or public sectors, your employees know that you care about them, and that you won’t let them down.

When you lead diligently, your followers also have some idea of what to expect. They know that you’ll always keep them fully informed about everything that could and does affect them. That means that you won’t hide bad news, for instance, and that you’ll allow them to make suggestions on how to improve organizational performance.

And that gives them the confidence to “relax,” so that they can do their jobs the best that they can. It means that they can focus on their responsibilities, rather than worry about other things like whether they’ll be able to pay the bills because there are doubts about the future success of the organization.

A workforce like that is a motivated and contented one.

Non-diligent leadership does just the opposite.

It causes people to look over their shoulders all the time because they don’t know what their boss will do next. Mistrust becomes commonplace. Pretty soon, even “ordinary” employees doubt whether or not they can trust one another, not to mention the leaders.

No doubt, this is exactly the kind of thing that you want to avoid, and you can. But to do that, you have to take your gift seriously.

You have to lead as you were intended to lead, as one who recognizes the extraordinary privilege you’ve been given to influence the lives of others for good.

There is no greater calling.


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