It can often sound glamorous to be a leader — to be the person responsible, the person carrying the weight, the person recognised for an achievement or for leading a team. However, if you’ve been a leader in any capacity for any length of time, you’ll know leadership is much more than that.
Long-term, consistent leadership is often one of the most rewarding and sacrificial endeavours we can undertake. At times, leadership is quite a thankless job, followed by moments that leave us speechless with gratitude. We’ll see the best and the worst in people. We’ll see what’s amazing and what’s broken. We’ll do things we love and things we’d rather not do. We’ll have moments where our hearts could burst with fulfilment and seasons where nothing we do works. We’ll work with people we love and with people that challenge us. We’ll have seasons of prominence and seasons of anonymity. We’ll have the temptation to throw in the towel, followed by a fierce determination to never quit. We’ll have people on our teams that disappoint us and others who surprise us, going beyond our expectations. We’ll have days that feel like endless mountain climbs, followed by days when we’re feeling ready for more of a challenge.
Despite the highs and lows that play out in everyone’s leadership journey, I count it such an honour to be one of the creative leaders on our team. Here are some of the reasons why leadership is an honour. Hopefully, these reasons will inspire you wherever you are along the journey.
1. Leadership is an opportunity to SERVE
Jesus was the ultimate model of servant leadership. In Matthew 23, He reminds us that greatness is defined by our heart to serve. Jesus served humanity with every word and every action — every day of his life. The same goes for us.
Every day is an opportunity to serve. We serve the teams we lead, the people we work with, our congregations, our creative communities, our pastors, and so on. Whether on or off the platform, whether seen or unseen, the motive that anchors us as leaders should be to serve and to add value to everything and everyone around us.
2. Leadership is an opportunity to CREATE & BUILD
As creative leaders, we are creators and builders. We build culture, communities, processes and structures. We create roads, mindsets, designs, drawings and songs. We imagine the future and make the intangible tangible. We see the things that no one sees, hear the undiscovered melodies and design the things not yet conceived. We bring the “imagined” to life. We have crazy ideas about what could be. But this also means that we try and fail, then stop, think about giving up, dream again, revise and try until we find something that succeeds. We are born to dream and build.
3. Leadership is an opportunity to STEWARD & INFLUENCE
I love the connotation of “steward.” It implies that what I look after isn’t mine, it belongs to another. The people in our teams and in our congregations are not “ours,” but rather, we are stewards of them — and they belong to God. We are meant to discover and help develop the beauty, potential and significance within them. We should know our teams and do all we can to manage them well, stewarding their strengths and weaknesses accordingly. Often, we are unaware of the influence our words actually have in their lives — our instruction, our feedback or our positive affirmation of their work and dreams. We have a greater ability to influence than we realise. I’m constantly challenged to be a more responsible steward of the people/teams/things within my leadership sphere.
4. Leadership is an opportunity to LEAD
We might often hear said that the best leaders are the best followers. We lead others in laying our lives down, in following Christ and in honouring the leaders He has placed over us. There are times for boldness and clarity, for showing others the way with definitive direction. There are times for strong, honest conversations, for visionary and forward-thinking and for creating environments where others can rise. There are times to push our teams to excel and get better. But first and foremost, our leadership must be an example of following Jesus. We lead well when we follow well.
5. Leadership is an opportunity to be GENEROUS
Any person in leadership has a choice to be generous towards those they lead. We get an opportunity to push others further and see them succeed, to help them find opportunity and fight for areas they are called to. We get to be their biggest fans. We can be generous with our words and our inclusion of others. We can be leaders who build up others with encouragement. We can speak to people’s faults or to their strengths. We can speak to what they have been or be generous towards what they could be.
My hope and prayer for us, no matter what facet of leadership we may embark on, is that we find joy in serving the people around us — in creating opportunity and future for them, stewarding and influencing to the best of our ability. Let us bring vision and clarity where needed, being generous toward them in every way possible, ultimately, serving JESUS in everything we do.