Saturday 22 May 2010


What does it mean to be a leader? If you take some time to seriously consider the question, it might be bigger than you realize. There are certainly things that come to mind: The ability to influence others, success in ones endeavours, confidence in ones abilities; the list can go on and on.  But then the question must be asked; is there really a gift of "leadership?"

It's interesting that in all my years at Cedarwood not once was someone brought on to our leadership team as a result of them going to the director and expressing the desire to do so. Have people shared specific giftings that had been affirmed in by others? Of course- but we've never brought someone onto leadership because they decided they were a "leader." Every member of our leadership teams over the years has been invited- some have felt a very clear instant peace about the role and some spent much time in prayer and trembling before accepting, but they were all invited.  Does that mean no one applied to be on leadership? Of course not- there were many- and quite honestly the fact they were pursuing a leadership role in itself told us clearly that they were not suited for the role.

I learned this lesson personally in my early years in the office at Cedarwood and I am ever thankful to God for the grace He showed me in gently humbling me while teaching me as well. I won't go into details, and there were many in this particular situation, but coming up to the summer of 2000 I decided I should be on leadership making important decisions about the camps future. This was met with almost instant rejection, but as I said already, through God's grace He used this to teach me where my gifts really were and where my heart needed to be.  Instead of the position I desired, He placed me in a very different one- the role of caring for people, and yet it still fit in the scheme of leadership according to our Cedarwood structure.  I became a Senior Counselor, and my role was to serve and care for the counselors serving at camp that summer, along with the leaders in training. I probably learned more in that one summer than in any other, and I honestly fell in love with the concept to the point that I really haven't stopped caring for people as a vocation. However, in the beginning it was humbling, and I can almost imagine what it might have been like for two particular disciples of Jesus who went through something similar.

It's actually one of the more amusing episodes in Jesus' ministry in a sad sort of way as it exposes how silly our selfish human nature can be. It's the story of James, John, and their mother found in Matthew 20. As they were walking one day, their mother knelt before Jesus and asked that her sons would sit at Jesus' left and right in places of honor in His kingdom. The other disciples were obviously not happy about this request James and John had their mother make of Jesus, but it is Jesus' reply to all of them that really shakes our earthly definition of what leadership is.

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

True leadership is about serving others and it involves a multitude of other gifts that come together to allow one to do so in love, with a good measure of fear and trembling.  If someone affirms you in your leadership gifts, you should take time to consider what those specific gifts are and how you can serve God and others with them. It's also a good thing to pray intently for God to continue to strengthen you in those gifts (as they never come "naturally") while also working on those areas in you that are lacking (and we all have them.)  Finally, be humble. If God has truly gifted you with characteristics and traits that all come together to form "leadership," others will naturally recognize this and call you into responsibilities that reflect the gifts.  You will have no need to fight for them, and quite honestly if you are a true leader you probably don't really want the responsibility as much as you are humbled that God would even consider a broken vessel like yourself for anything.

Philippians 2:5-8
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
 he did not think of equality with God
 as something to cling to.
 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
 he took the humble position of a slave
 and was born as a human being.
 When he appeared in human form,
 he humbled himself in obedience to God
 and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

This is Leadership.

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