Working definition of this leadership concept:
Leaders are both spiritually gifted to lead, and are themselves a gift.
Benefits for leaders who are gifted to lead:
1. Gifts are given to be used. Leaders need not be ashamed of their gifts of administration, their ability to form vision, or their God-given talent to organize, strategize and delegate. They can humbly yet confidently offer their gifts and enjoy contributing to the community.
2. If leadership is a spiritual gift, then there is spiritual empowerment (grace) available from God for every need a leader faces. When a leader turns to God to supply what is needed to accomplish God’s will, God may intervene supernaturally, train and/or provide empowerment to the leader, or He may provide other people to help. (See Exodus 3-4.)
Benefits for the community where gifted leaders lead:
1. Leaders are gifted by God to serve and build up the community. (See Ephesians 4.)
2. Leaders are not just gifted; they are a gift. Leaders are a blessing. Communities of people need leaders, and God has graciously supplied them.
Biblical inspiration and support:
In Romans the Apostle Paul says, “3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." (Romans 12:3–8 ESV, emphasis mine).
Paul is teaching that although we are all one in Christ, we have different functions in the Christian community. We do not decide our own role, but God determines it as He gives us grace. Among the gifts Paul lists here is leading. God gives some people a gracious gift to lead. Imagine what endless resources of wisdom, patience, guidance and more are available to leaders who are spiritually empowered to lead!
In 1 Corinthians Paul writes, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28 ESV, emphasis mine). And earlier in this chapter Paul teaches that each person is given “the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV). These gifts are to be used to build up the community of Christians. Among this list we see administrating. The word translated “administrating” here by the ESV translators is translated “gifts of leadership” by the NET Bible and “forms of leadership” by the NRSV. Again, Paul is teaching that leadership is a spiritual gift. Looking at verse 28 it also seems that just as God provided apostles and prophets to the church, so also he provided leaders. Therefore, I would summarize that God gives supernatural grace to lead and administrate and also that leaders are a blessing God gives to build up the Christian community.
The guys in my family just went on a motorcycle trip. My dad had planned the whole thing. He let everyone know what to pack, he chose a destination and secured accommodations, and he thought through the route. He was the unofficial leader. Everything was looking great and then 20 minutes into the trip one of the motorcycles broke down. My dad was able to assess what was wrong, determine it was not a quick fix, and then he and the rider agreed to park the bike and pick it up after the trip. They talked to the homeowners near where it broke down to get permission to leave it there for the weekend. The rider without a bike joined on a larger cycle with another rider and they continued. Throughout the day the group was met with more obstacles. First a bridge was out, and they had to reroute. Then train tracks were being replaced and they had to backtrack and find a different way. Through it all the leader was a gift. My dad had the experience of many other motorcycle trips, he had thought through the area and alternative routes, and he had the confidence to make quick decisions to keep the trip going. They had a great time. Leaders are a gift.
What gifts of leadership has God given you? Maybe vision? Or strategic thinking? Perhaps administration? Or organization? Recognizing the gifts and talents of others? Team building? Maybe other gifts I have not listed?
As we turn our attention to assessing our gifts it is helpful to highlight two different kinds of errors we often make when recognizing our gifts.
First, we may take our own gifts for granted, devaluing them as we compare them with others’ gifts. We often do not even realize how special our own gifts are, but they are really are! We need to recognize them and invest in developing them. Consider asking a few people to reflect back to you the gifts and talents they see in you.
Another error we might make is that we might see our natural talents, our acquired skills and God’s gracious giftings as our own to use to build up wealth, security and status for ourselves. But God gives gifts to individuals to use to benefit the entire community. We are not to busy ourselves building our own “kingdoms” but to serve God as He extends and builds up His Kingdom. Take a moment to reflect on how you are employing your gifts. Consider praying and asking God to show how you could use your gifts and talents more effectively to build up God’s people and to bless the community.
If God gives grace to lead, what might you ask for in prayer today? What do you need as you lead in your home, workplace, non-profit, and/or church today?
Wisdom? Guidance? Strength? Hope? Vision? Discernment?
Consider praying and asking God for supernatural empowerment to do the work of leading today. Then, take one more step. Take some time at the end of the day to reflect. Ask the Lord to remind you of important moments in the day. Where did you sense the Lord’s grace? Where did you sense you were working from your own strength? Ask the Lord to help you walk more and more in His grace.
A parting word on leadership as a gift:
Leaders lead with God-given grace to serve God and His people.
Lead and be the blessing God has enabled you to be.
How has a leader been a gift to you?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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