Leaders love to talk about leadership. They love to read about leadership and listen to podcasts about leadership and learn new things about how to be the best leaders possible. Every leader wants to be the best leader there ever was.
But most leaders I know (myself included at times) lose something really important in the race to the top of the leadership totem pole. And when I tell you what it is, you’re going to laugh. You might even feel a little dumb (I know I did when I first came to this realization).
Do you want to know the thing most leaders tend to forget?
Most leaders tend to forget they’re actually leading people.
Not fake people. Not robots. You’re not on an island somewhere by yourself, trying to win a game. Leadership is about leading real, viable, actual people who need to be led to a certain outcome or goal.
Why is this so easy to forget?
Before we get too hard on ourselves, I think one of the reasons this is easy to forget is that most leaders I know are driven people. When there is a crisis, you’re usually the first one to come up with a solution. When there is a problem, you’re the first person to volunteer to solve it.
You want to fix, help, push forward, promote, move and grow in any way that you can. That’s a good quality.
But there’s one thing you have to remember, as a leader:
People don’t need fixing or programming. Or, maybe they do, but the kind of fixing or programming they need, you can’t manage. Only Jesus can do that.
Jesus has commissioned you, as a leader, to be His hands and feet, to be the fixer of circumstances maybe, but when it comes to people, He’s called you to listen, to encourage, to exhort, to discipline when necessary, but ultimately to lift up.
If the people around you fall apart when you’re not around, chances are you’re not leading them well.
If they can’t do their job without you, double-check how you’re doing as a leader.
If you’re producing events and activities more than you’re growing individuals to be loving followers of Christ, that should be a red flag for you. Ask God how he wants you to grow in this vital area as a leader.
Why does it matter?
You might be asking, “Well, Justin, why does this even matter? I’m doing a great job fulfilling my job description. Why should I be responsible for the people? I can’t force them to follow me.”
While you’re right that you can’t force people to follow you, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, if you’re a good leader, you won’t have to.
People want to follow great leaders.
This is important, not just to gain the title of “Great Leader” but also because Jesus called it important. Notice Jesus never commissioned the Church to “Go make great programs and events.” He urged the Church to “Go make disciples” (Matt 28:19).
Programs and events are a gateway for new believers to our churches.
But always (even with Jesus) it is a person, not an event, that invites another person to come, follow Him.
Are you leading people or simply managing them?