I’m not sure if it’s one of my best of worst qualities, but none the less, it’s still there: I’m not the type of person who can resist a challenge. Ask me to take a quiz, tell me I can’t do something, or challenge me to do something in a certain amount of time and the game is on!
(Frequently my brother uses this quality to get me to wash the dishes faster. Even though I know what he’s doing, I just can’t resist proving him wrong when he says, “I bet you can’t do this in less than 7 minutes.”)
This quality kicked into full gear after I recently read the Mark Batterson book, “All In.” When he talked about Jonathan Edwards making a 70 point written consecration of himself to God, something inside of me said “Challenge!” and I decided that I’d make my own list of dedications. Only I titled mine, “Who Do I Want to Be?”
As I was searching my heart and making my list, I began to notice a pattern. Over and over again, I kept seeing the words, “I want to do/be…..just like I learned from…..”
Over and over again, each time I wrote down a character trait or behavioral pattern I was devoted to having in my life, I could picture the face of the person and the impression they made on my life. For instance, I wrote:
I want to be a woman of the word who knows the Bible, teaches the Bible and lives by the Bible just like my Mom. I want to follow her example of “If God loves me and wants me…then I’m His forever.”
Other times I wrote down a quote from someone that made a tremendous difference in my life. For example,
I want to present Jesus to the world as a shiny red apple so people can’t wait to take a bite. ---Rev. Larry Titus (my pastor as a teenager)
Line by line it became obvious that the woman I am and the person I want to be has been shaped and influenced by men and women of God who either directly or indirectly made an impact on my life. Whether it was a word spoken from a pulpit, a truth I learned from watching them live their lives, or a one on one, heart to heart conversation, God used His people to teach me and show me what it meant to be a follower of Christ, a woman of God, and a minister.
Colin Powell once said, “Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses."
This mimics what the Bible teaches in Proverbs 13:20 which says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Looking at my own life, I have seen this to be true. I thank God that I have been truly blessed to know some true eagles of the faith---people who inspire me to try harder, soar higher, and go all in for God. Not only do they challenge me to follow their example, but the impact they’ve had on my life challenges me to be a better leader and make the same impact on the life of another. Following their example, I want to pay it forward---open up my life and my heart to help another someone coming after me be all they can be and find their own place in the kingdom of God.
Ultimately, I believe this is the calling of every godly leader. Whether you are leading in business, in a family, in the community, in the classroom or in a church, as a leader, you have two responsibilities.
First, you are responsible to surround yourself with people who will inspire you.
Spend time with people who will push you further and harder, who will give you solid advice, question your ideas, and provide correction when needed.
Walk in the counsel of the wise so that you will grow wiser still.
Always try to learn from someone more experienced and grow in new areas in your lives.
Recognize that this doesn’t magically happen. It’s a choice you make to allow yourself to be mentored.
Secondly, a godly leader is responsible to be a good example to those who are looking up to them.
The best leaders don’t just reach a place of success and then sit back and enjoy the perks. No, a good leader, a godly leader is always willing to invest in the next generation. They are team players willing to pass along their wisdom, experiences, advice, failures, and victories in the hopes that the next generation will not only meet their expectations but exceed them.
As a leader who has benefitted from the incredible lives of others, I am determined that this is the type of leader I want to be. Thus, I have added to my list of written dedications that I want to accept these two responsibilities.
What about you?
Are you ready to accept these leadership responsibilities?
Who are the people in your life that challenge you to be a great leader?
Do you need to seek out more godly mentors who will help you excel in whatever leadership role God has called you to do?
Are there some “wolves” in your life that need to have less influence on you?
Are you willing to submit to being mentored?
What about the other side of the coin? Are you intentional about pouring into the lives of others?
Are you purposefully setting an example that others can look up to and follow?
What do you think people are learning from you? Is this what you want to be teaching?
Do you need to make changes in your life to be a better leader for those who are looking up to you and following in your footsteps?
In the end, these are the questions that every leader needs to ask themselves, because true leadership isn’t about power, prestige or perks. It’s about guiding others to a place where can fulfill their own God-given mission and doing your part to advance the kingdom of God.
Whether you're a Mom, a teacher, a boss, a minister, or any other type of leader, this is your challenge: it’s time for you to answer the question: Who Do You Want to Be?