The word is… lead
March 4, 2016
Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.
By Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg
I heard John Mayer’s song, “Waiting on the World to Change” on the radio today. I really don’t like that song. It’s whiney. It’s about a generation that isn’t old enough to take the lead, so they’re just waiting on the world to change. It sounds a bit like a cop-out to me.
I’ll grant you that it’s hard to know how to lead when the man you’re following was crucified by the powers that be. It’s hard to lead people like Jesus would have led because that sort of leadership tends to end with nails and a cross.
When the Son of God took the form of a servant and modeled a leadership that looks like washing feet, well, that’s a hard thing to put on a bumper sticker. That’s a leader that’s neither “electable” nor likely to “make America great again.” (Note the bipartisan nature of the reference).
But God has always been in the leadership development business. The ones God tends to choose are often a surprise: Moses stuttered; Jeremiah was too young; Sarah was too old; Saul persecuted Christians; and David…well, he violated almost all the commandments.
Consider all the prophets that God woke up in the middle of the night, all the people God called to lead when even the church didn’t recognize their call — people like Sojourner Truth and Jerena Lee.
God is still raising up leaders, who at first may not know they are leaders. When the great “I Am” whispers, so often the response is “but who am I to go and lead anybody? I’m just waiting on the world to change.” That’s where the church can step in — naming spiritual gifts and graces, training and encouraging new leaders, being an Eli to help a Samuel recognize God’s voice.
Leading sometimes means doing the hard thing, the unpopular thing. It sometimes means speaking truth to power. It sometimes means keeping your mouth shut. Leadership is both skill and art, requiring a curious balance of courage and humility. Servant leadership in the name of Jesus requires knowing that “leaders” are also first and foremost “followers.” We follow Jesus and we lead others to him. We follow the Savior whose model of greatness was about being a servant of all.
Leading is about speaking up and speaking out and taking risks in Jesus’ name. Leading is about disciples washing feet, breaking chains, sowing hope. They’re not waiting on the world to change. They’re disciples of Jesus. It’s their job to change the world.
By Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill
One of my favorite games to play as a child was “Follow the Leader.” It was a relatively simple game: all you had to do was follow the leader. What the leader did, you did. Where the leader went, you went.
It was always interesting to see what the leader was going to do next, and see if you could keep up. When the leader ran, we ran. When the leader climbed, we climbed. When the leader stopped, we stopped, until there was a new leader. That new leader would be the person that we would now begin to follow.
It is interesting the things that a child’s game can teach adults. Leadership is crucial in the world. You see, leaders in “Follow the Leader,” and in all other facets of leading, have one job: to get people from here to there. The job of a leader is to see a new, better place and lead people there; to lead them when they can’t see what the leader sees; to lead them when they are not sure if they want to go; to lead them because where the leader is trying to take everyone is in the best interest of everyone.
Many times, what people miss about leading is that it is both a responsibility and a stewardship at the same time. Leaders have the responsibility to lead. One can not be a leader and stand still permanently. That’s because “leading” is a verb; it is an action. Leaders are hard-wired to go somewhere and take people with them. They are hard-wired to make things happen, but they have the responsibility to make sure the right things happen.
To lead one must have conviction, courage and, most importantly, faith. Leaders must have conviction that they’re doing the right thing, courage to be unpopular and the faith to see things through.
Finally, leadership is a stewardship. Leadership is temporary in that it is given to people for a period of time, to do the best they can, and then it moves to someone else. If you are going to lead, you have to be a good steward of the opportunity. It is up to you to lead for the greater good, lead to brighter places and be accountable to those who you lead and the God that gave you the opportunity.
So make a difference, my friends. Make something happen. Take people to higher heights and deeper depths. In short, when it is your turn, lead.
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