Is this familiar?
You’ve been asked to lead something – a task group at work, a bible study, or a committee – and when you try to take your position, others monopolize the time, the room, or the conversation. Every time. You come prepared, yet aren’t sure how to manage those you are supposed to be leading in order to accomplish the goal. If this has happened to you, then I need to let you know something: you’re not leading.
Where there is a leadership vacuum, something will always fill it. It’s usually a person with their own agenda, someone with other ideas, or that certain one who always needs the platform to let everyone else know something awful that happened in their life. Again. Your leadership vacuum is gathering all the dirt it can hold and will continue until you unplug it and assertively take your rightful place. (That’s not mean, that’s leadership.)
Leadership vacuums gather all the dirt. – Robin Lewis
In 1995, I was hired for a ministry position on a local church staff. Due to personal issues, the pastor had resigned 2 months prior. I watched as several strong personalities sought to fill the leadership role in order to influence the direction of the church. The Deacons finally hired a temporary administrator who had no tact, did a lot of damage, yet who still had to fight off others who wanted to further their own agenda. It was a circus for several months until a permanent pastor who was a strong leader was found.
One of my coaching clients called this morning with a similar problem. She leads a bible study group at her church where a few individuals are frequently sharing about their problems as prayer needs and consuming the time scheduled for bible study. Her concern that she should have compassion and her pause in leadership created space for something else. This particular client is a strong leader in business, community, and family, yet sometimes struggles to know how to keep order in the bible study group. As we talked, I shared with her that she isn’t truly leading and that has created a leadership vacuum and others are filling it! We discussed offering options to the group from the beginning of the study time and she decided to lead in the future by letting them know they would be focusing on bible study. If they had a prayer need, they were welcome to share it with her afterwards, that she would be available for 20 minutes, or they could email the prayer request. Then without hesitation, she will then begin the bible study she has worked to prepare.
This method is not mean, it’s leadership! And it’s good leadership because the participants are going to receive what they showed up for (bible study) and go home on time. It gives the option to remain to share a prayer need in a specific block of time so that the leader isn’t there until midnight (Because that is what a good Christian should do? Not!) or send a detailed email.
Leadership is not a method used to control others (founded on fear). Leadership influence, trust, order, and healthy boundaries. Leadership is characterized by honor, respect, and serving those you lead (founded on love). Leadership isn’t developed in a day but in the day-to-day. A person who cannot be led will never lead others. If you are in a position of leadership, you are tasked to lead. If you don’t know how or are unsure of your direction, then find a mentor. In my nearly 30 years of ministry and business, I’ve seen many individuals lead poorly and a few lead well. I’ve learned from both. Because I want to be effective in all I do, I continue to keep great mentors in my life.
Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. – John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
Age is not a determining factor! If you’re older, it doesn’t mean you’re a leader and if you’re young, you’re not disqualified. If you currently hold a leadership position or would like to one day, become a lifelong learner on leadership. Then you will be able to lead effectively and mentor others as future leaders.
I coach women of all ages and work with teenage entrepreneurs up to seasoned people who are still seeking to grow. I happily recommend John Maxwell’s book mentioned above because his writing is based on biblical principles of leadership.
There will always be those seeking to take or weaken your leadership position – and yes, even in the church. Learn how to stand firm with assertiveness, great communication, and remember to pray to become the leader God created you to be.
Without wise leadership, a nation (church, business, or community) falls; there is safety in having many advisers. – Proverbs 11:14
You were created in God’s image. That means you are here to influence and lead, but you can only lead with what you have. Never stop learning and never be satisfied with your personal growth level. Maintain a growth plan and keep pursuing your potential and your passion. Your leadership will follow the line of your destiny and if you seek to live your life with God leading you, instead of gathering all the dirt, you will succeed.
Lots of grace for the journey!
From the desk by the window where the sun is shining brightly after a thunderous rain!
(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC
For more on leadership, spiritual life coaching, or to book me to speak at your event, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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