Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Leader of the Back

It’s very true some people are born to lead. While there are a handful of books on leadership that detail how leaders are built, not made, the overwhelming evidence when examining a multitude of leaders show they all share a number of personality traits and gifting, with rare exception. So the term “born leader” is certainly not a misnomer.

However, not all who are born to lead are meant to lead in every circumstance. A leader who excels at vision casting may not be the right one to lead “mundane” day to day affairs.
A leader who excels at organization and administration may not be the perfect choice to launch a new initiative. The leadership style really needs to achieve justification with the task at hand for harmony to exist between the leader, the led and the path they all tread.

In some cases, it’s simply better for a leader to be led, depending on the circumstances and their gifting or even depending on what season they’re experiencing in life. For sake of conversation, I’ll call this “following leadership.”

What a great boon to the leader, if there are other leaders following along. If things get rough and the leader needs help, following leaders in the group can step up and help keep the boat from taking on water. If a following leader excels at encouragement or discernment, and the leading leader leaves, comes under a life storm or simply goes off the rails, the group or organization is far better equipped to weather the uncertainties they soon face.

I know this because I’ve had a ringside seat to an inspiring act of following leadership from my beautiful wife. An organization she’s part of has started to go off the rails lately. Not due to the fault of any one person, or necessarily the fault of the actual leader; it’s more under the heading of “life is messy.”

As the organization has gone sideways, they’ve found themselves not being led at all. During this time, however, my wife has reached into her grab bag of spiritual gifts and brought forth some exceptionally wise and God honoring leadership for the other members of the organization.

She sought wise counsel before acting; consulted the Word before deciding. She prayed on the decisions placed before her and then presented her findings and feelings to the other members of the group in love, firmly founded on faith that God would honor the group as long as the group honored Him. It's been educational and inspiring to watch. Especially since I've had a ringside seat to witness far too many "leaders" who only know how to do it wrong, time and again, in the course of my life.

Those types of leaders believe they should lead by their own will, their own understanding and their own whims. They believe the organization exists only to act as an extension of themselves, only to achieve their desires and strive for their own edification. This is why so many organizations in our world are ineffective in achieving their goals. And why so many ultimately fail.

This problem is exponentially worse if the organization has one or more following leaders who feel the same way. This can, and will, literally tear a group apart.

A true leader leads by placing their own thoughts, feelings and desires to the side and applying God’s desires to the task at hand. Especially when they’re engaged in following leadership.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding

While I’ve never been in a position where I have to always follow my wife’s lead, as I watch her lead from behind, it fills me with confidence that should that day come, she’ll lead us exactly where God wants us. Every time.

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