I was talking to a friend yesterday about possibly hosting or speaking at a conference for volunteers. After talking, he noted that I received my Masters degree dealing with the subject of leadership. He wasn’t sure that that was the best topic to cover for dealing with a conference for volunteers. I can understand his reluctance, after all leadership is about authority and being in charge …right?
For some people, this is what leadership is about: power, control, authority. A lot of folks when they think of leaders they think of the “great man”, astride a great white horse here to rescue us from the depths of the being leaderless followers. After all, the Bible does say where there is no vision the people will perish or cast off restraint – so leaders must tell the people where they are going and what the future will look like…right?
Now, I’m not saying this is what my friend was thinking. But this is what a lot of people think of when they think of leaders or leadership.
Are they right?
I think the idea that you are a leader because you are taller and have a strong chin or “look” like a leader is outdated and out of place. I do see the role of a leader as being vision casting, culture creation and directing/guiding people. But a leader has to do more than just the three things. And this is where leadership becomes applicable to volunteers.
In my opinion, one of the greatest roles of a leader is to lift the level of other people. At Bethel, where I work, we talk about leaders as “redemptive” individuals. We teach that leadership is a set of learned behaviors. Leaders are not born, leaders learn to be leaders. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe there are those that are gifted naturally as leaders and I believe there’s a spiritual gift of leadership. But this is one of the instances where it is not a matter of either/or but really both/and.
A redemptive leader takes their own story of redemption and uses it to help other followers find their own redemptive story. In doing this, a redemptive leader with the level of their followers. Ultimately, the goal of a redemptive leader is to release their followers to also help lift the level of other followers through their own redemptive potential. It becomes the process of showing, telling, and doing life together. Sound familiar?
It should. Because the redemptive leaders/redemptive followers model is really a discipleship relationship. It is in this context, that leadership becomes vital for every teacher, co-teacher, and student in your ministry.
Not everyone in your ministry can cast the vision, really only you can. Not everyone in your ministry can determine the direction of your ministry, really only you can. Everyone in your ministry can lift the level of a follower. This is why leadership is a vital lesson for actual leaders, followers, and students. Redemptive leadership helps us understand that leadership is not about position. Leadership is about helping others and serving those around you.
(On an unrelated note to the post, I apologize for any grammatical errors or typos. This entire post was written via Siri on my iPhone 5.)