A friend of mine sent me the following text message last night:  “Define Leadership”.

I thought about that for a second and send back the following reply: “In a text message?”

It wasn’t too much later when my friend replied with: “and in as few words as possible.”

I could see a glint in his eye and I knew there was something going on.  Well…I mentioned to my wife what my friend texted me and she said (with a sly look on her face):  “JESUS!”  Not a bad answer so I send that text to my friend.  Of course he accused me of playing the “Jesus card”, but also admitted it was a good answer.

I eventually called him and we chatted about this for a while…not coming up with an answer but decided to get together with some other guys and discuss this.

So I throw this out to you:  Define Leadership

I am curious what you think.  Try to keep your responses relatively short (long “books” are hard to respond too).  In this day and age, strong leadership is important.

Let’s see if we can write a good definition together.


19 thoughts on “Leadership

    • I agree to a point so allow me to play devil’s advocate for a moment. What if that leader is walking on ahead of people; pointing out a route that is all wrong. Is that effective leadership?

      • These two comments remind me of a certain person I’m related to who is very much a leader. One time he was physically leading us in New York City. He was out ahead walking, but not looking back to see me struggling because I have a slight physical handicap which gets worse the longer I am walking.

  1. I will begin my exploration of this with these thoughts:
    –Let’s assume we are talking about effective, good, positive leadership.
    –I will also adopt “servant” language in my definition.
    –Integrity and trustworthiness (understanding that “bad” leaders can appear trustworthy).
    –Author, John Maxwell is a good resource on leadership.
    –“The Message of Leadership: 31 Essential Insights from the Proverbs” by Eugene H. Peterson.

    O.K…that’s what I am throwing out there right now.

  2. Something else I just remembered. My mom gave me this picture one time that had the caption — “Leadership is action, not position”.

  3. I liked your first answer best… “Jesus”. Obi-Wan (and your mother) has taught you well!

    Having said that, and agreeing with what has been said about “serving”, in my experience my most effective leadership has come through encouragement of others. As a pastor I do more cheerleading than leading and, in so doing, the church is equipped to do the work of the ministry.

  4. Natural. When I read Brians question last night “where does courage fit in?”… I slept on it and when I woke the word “natural” came to mind. As Lutherans with a “theology of the cross” instead of a “theology of glory”, we recognize that the Christian life and even Christian leadership is a result of Christ living and working through us who are dying to self. There is a passivity to it… Let God be God to, in and through you. Occasionally that may look courageous… but it’s just Jesus showing through. (sorry for the long reply)

    • Natural…Hmmm…I can see that.

      Would you say that courage is what separates the authentic, “natural” leaders from those who aren’t?

      • Good question. Perhaps its helpful to think about it this way: Leadership has many faces … for the Christian, we know that everything God requires of us, He gives to us in Christ.

        Jesus – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – the ultimate leader – displays His leadership sometimes courageously, sometimes humbly, sometimes powerfully, sometimes in suffering.

        Natural leadership (as I defined it) is what God chooses to do to and through us. To insist that leadership has one particular face, turns it into a law that we “do”. Luther in the Heidelberg Disputation said: “The law says, “Do this,” and it is never done. Grace says, “believe in this,” and everything is already done.”

  5. Good leadership is knowing where to go and bringing others along. You see, if you are leading but no one is following, you are only taking a walk.

    • Very good point. You can have people following you and have no idea where you are going…in that case you’re going for a walk with a lot of people. Knowing where you are going is involves trusting God and listening to God’s voice.

      Thank you for the comment.

    • Oooo…I like that too. Kind of goes along with the servant leadership language or the cheerleader language Patrick used. Thanks.

  6. I like what Chris said, but also — calling people to follow Jesus and being willing to walk the way yourself.

    But I like what Chris said too.

    And, I’d like to add something about equipping, or giving people the tools to do the things they are called to do.

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