A leader is more than someone whom others follow.
I’ve heard that definition repeated throughout the halls of corporate America and in professional development seminars for several years now. I think it’s supposed to make everyone feel good about their potential to lead other people.
Technically, I guess it’s accurate. We are all leaders in a sense.
When a friend picks up a new hobby to spend time with you or because you looked like you were having fun doing it, you’re leading them. When your sister starts getting her hair cut at the same salon as you, it’s because you led her there. When your children dress, laugh, act, and eat like you, it’s because of your leadership. There are people whose names you’ll never know and whose faces you’ve never seen who have shaped particular aspects of their identity to be like you. Maybe they spotted you pumping gas and liked your shades so they bought a pair. Maybe they heard your contagious laugh in the next booth at a restaurant and decided to be more jovial and outgoing. Maybe they saw you with a grocery cart full of potato chips and ice cream and made the choice right then and there to get in shape and eat healthy. The point is this: you are being followed.
Because we are all leaders, we have an implied responsibility to be good ones.
Ask yourself: where am I leading the people who follow me? Is it toward God? Away from him? Am I leading anywhere at all, or just standing still?
Andy Stanley, the pastor of North Point Community Church in Georgia, has this to say about leadership in his upcoming book The Next Generation Leader:
“Your talent and giftedness as a leader have the potential to take you farther than your character can sustain you. That ought to scare you. The fact that people choose to follow you is not necessarily an indicator that you deserve to be followed. There is a significant difference between having a following and being worth following. The truth is that talented, charismatic, visionary people will almost always have a following. Whether they are worth following is a different question, predicated upon a different set of values.
To become a leader worth following, you must give time and attention to the inner man. To leave a legacy that goes beyond accomplishment alone, a leader must devote himself to the matters of the heart.”
Don’t worry about becoming a leader. You already are one. Worry about being a leader that glorifies God and encourages people to follow Him.