Leadership Lessons to Live By: How to Know If You’re a Leader

So, are you a leader or not? You may have asked yourself that question dozens of times, especially as you take on new responsibilities or enter a new phase of life. The answer is often elusive. Do you go with that gut sense of leader-feeling, or do you analyze yourself by some external criterion? Obviously, there is no simple answer to the question of whether or not you’re cut out to lead.  There are, however, some factors you should consider.

Not everyone is a leader, contrary to some motivational speakers. However, those who feel like they can’t lead may indeed be able to lead. As you consider your life and your situation, ask yourself these questions.

1. Am I in a position where I’m forced to lead?

Often, the best indication of your leadership is whether or not you’re actually doing it. Do you find yourself leading, even if it’s against your will or inclinations? To take one common example, perhaps you’re a dad. You have children who are dependent upon you. If so, you’re supposed to lead them. If your church was suddenly left without a pastor, and you find yourself pushed up to the pulpit, you should probably be leading. If you have an overwhelming calling to carry out a vision, you probably should be leading.

2. Am I willing to admit my mistakes?

Leadership is about making mistakes and owning up to them. No leader can make perfect decisions all the time. You’re going to mess up, offend people, and feel stupid sometimes. That’s okay. Crossing the bar of leadership isn’t about achieving perfection; it’s about being willing to admit when you’ve blown it.

3. Am I willing to serve others?

If you read articles on this site very often, you’ll probably come across this verse: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 25:26). Jesus is the ultimate example of a serving leader (Matthew 20:28).  If you think that leadership is about lofty positions and grandiose authority, you’re probably not ready to lead. Such aspirations easily degenerate into despotism. The true leader — the Christlike leader — is a leader who serves.

4. Am I willing to lead?

Michael Hyatt wrote, “While everyone has the potential to be a leader, most never take up the mantle. They are content to let others take the risk and do the work.” Are you willing to do the work of serving — of leading? Some leaders become so reluctantly. Some are eager for the task. Most of us are somewhere inbetween. The willingness to lead is not some sort of eager, bouncy, breathless excitement. Willingness to lead is simply submitting to the task at hand. Stubborn followers cannot be effective leaders.

5. Am I willing to learn?

When one becomes a leader, he or she does not automatically become vested with “leadership qualities.” Leadership qualities, like so many other things in life, are learned. Sure, there are innate personality and character traits that each of us have, some of which render us particularly suited to leadership. However, much about becoming a leader is learning how to do it. Read books. Seek a mentor. Browse blogs. Ask questions. Think hard. Pray often. Learn your way to leadership.

Finally, ask yourself the ultimate question:  Are you willing to follow Jesus?

Spiritual leadership is not your ordinary workaday-style of leadership. The life of a spiritual leader is the found in the model of the ultimate servant-leader, Jesus Christ.

Remember, Jesus’ leadership style was sacrificical. It was about servanthood. But his leadership led him to the cross — the point of absolute humility and death. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” True leadership requires following Jesus, which requires dying to self.

Are you willing to do that ?

6 Responses to “Leadership Lessons to Live By: How to Know If You’re a Leader”

  1. Sandy November 13, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    Thanks for the article. It was very encouraging. I am in a leadership position and feel very unworthy of the position. I praise God for His ways of assurance through messages, articles, people, songs, etc. My position as music minister, I do not take lightly. Thankful for prayers and support of my friends, family and leaders. I recognize that I cannot do it without Jesus nor do I want to do it without Him. Thanks again for your words. I enjoy the articles that you post. They are very good. Blessings to you!!

  2. François Deschamps November 13, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    Short and excellent article, as usual! Thank you!

  3. Pastor Stephen Skov November 13, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    People are looking for leaders who know who they are and what needs to be done and have a good idea how to get there. This article lists many good ways to be trained for the task. I also feel that if a leader is to have people who will willingly follow that leader must demonstrate competency and credibility. I won’t follow anyone I don’t trust and who really doesn’t know what they are doing.

  4. Pastor Sean Avery November 13, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    Amen! I’m willing to die to the things of this world for the Glory of the Lord. To Honor God the Farther and Jesus Christ.

  5. Mark Bell February 1, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    A true Biblical leader is willing to submit and willing to set aspirations aside for the good of those served. The last leader who did this perfectly was Jesus, my savior and mentor. When He returns or when I go to be with Him…I’ll see how I did. Until then I will seek to follow His path of humility as a servant; no matter how many times I fail! He forgives, He loves, He upholds. How grate is our God!

  6. Richard E. Rider November 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    This A Corrected Version:

    I truly appreciate Sharefaith posting this opinion. I pray that people who read this article take it to heart. I have served in a number of organizations: Church; United States Armed Forces; Masonic Blue Lodge; Veterans of Foreign Wars; American Legion; Chamber of Commerces; Lions International; Kiwanis International; Be-frienders; and others. Nothing against any person who belongs to any productive service organization, it has been my experience that way to many officials are forced to carry the load for everyone else that will not take their turn, and one of the other maladies are the people who seek some kind of Rank for boosting their own notoriety. Also I refuse to be a member of any organization that has everything decided before the meeting ever gets started, because I truly believe in Empowerment, and think our entire nation has suffered somewhat due the sharks.

    Respectfully Yours In Christ’s Service & Love,

    Richard E. Rider
    Vietnam Veteran
    VFW Post Chaplain

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