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October 28, 2017

Leadership Is Not About You

By Ed Stetzer

Leadership is not about you.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that leadership is not for you—leadership is something you can learn and excel at. But no matter how many theories you study or how many clubs you led in high school, if your leadership is about you, you will not be an effective leader.

Leadership Means Hard Work

Taking the lead is not easy or glamorous. It’s not something we do for our own comfort. Author and former Overseas Missionary Fellowship director Oswald Sanders summed it up this way (and it applies to men and women):

The young man of leadership caliber will work while others waste time, study while others snooze, pray while others daydream.

Are you prepared for this kind of work?

We see this in how the Bible talks about leadership. Look at Romans 12:6-8:

According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith; if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness. (emphasis added)

“Leading, with diligence.” This is the essential attitude that Paul assigns to leadership—it is as essential to leadership as generosity is to giving or faith is to prophecy.

Leadership Means Service

Ministry leadership is servant leadership. The Bible tells us this again and again. God demonstrates it in His own love for us—in Jesus Christ entering this messy world, washing his disciples’ feet, and dying for unrepentant sinners.

This attitude of powerful love and painful sacrifice is the attitude we are to adopt, according to Philippians 2:5. And look at the verses that set the stage of that command:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4, CSB)

What would it look like to lead like this? How should this shape how you plan, how you motivate, or how you delegate?

Unsurprisingly, secular leadership scholars are discovering that the Christian mentality of servant leadership is more effective than the traditional models of leadership that focus on the leader’s own good. Servant leaders lead better, especially in the long run.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer (@edstetzer), Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College. Ed also serves as the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton, and as chair of the Evangelism and Leadership Program in the Graduate School. Ed is a prolific author, and well-known conference speaker. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written a dozen books and hundreds of articles. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is also the Executive Editor of The Gospel Project, which is used by over 1 million individuals each week. As of fall 2015, Stetzer co-hosts BreakPoint This Week, a radio broadcast that airs on over 400 media outlets. He also serves the teaching pastor at Christ Fellowship, a multi-cultural megachurch in Miami, Florida.

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