We know a gifted leader when we see one. We recognize that God has given that person certain abilities or character traits that make him or her the obvious (or at least easiest) choice to lead others. What we may miss, though, is that God has given us all leadership qualities and abilities, and has placed each of us where we can set the tone for those around us.
This isn’t meant to dismiss obvious gifts of leadership. But let’s expand our vision to realize that each of us, at some point, will be given the opportunity to set an example for others. We do this as spouses and parents, as we’ve seen the past couple Wednesdays, but this week we’re going to see how God might want to use each one of us to lead—or maybe how he’s already using us, without our even realizing it.
And whether you’ll groan or get excited all over again, nothing says “illustrative movie clip” like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This scene’s from The Fellowship of the Ring—specifically, the scene at the council of Elrond. (If you’re in a hurry, you can just view from around 3:15-6:15.) When you’re done, reflect:
• What motivated Frodo to act? How did it differ from what motivated the other leaders?
• How did Frodo’s willingness make him a leader, despite his stature (in more ways than one)?
• When have you said, “I do not know the way,” but were willing to do what it took to get something done? How did others respond initially? later on?
The late John Stott said this: “The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” And a much earlier saint said this:
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:4-9).
• How do you see leadership by example here? What things are “imitated” or passed on?
• What good results do you see from these churches “imitating both us and the Lord”?
• What are some ways we model, and help to “reproduce,” Jesus in others?
• Who models Jesus to you? What’s one thing you’ve learned about Jesus from them?
• What’s one thing God has shown you that you wish everyone else could see as clearly? How might God use you to be the one to help others to see or even imitate it?
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:1-7, NIV).
• Who’s your “flock” right now? In other words: Who has God put in your care or your sphere of influence—regardless of the official authority you have (or don’t have) over them? (And for our purposes, a flock can be one person.)
• Where else do you think God might be calling you to be more of a leader, whether it’s by example or in a more official role? What do you feel you need in order to take the next step?
While reading this, you may have thought of someone you’re leading right now, if only by example. Think of a practical way to put your words and actions together this week. Make it evident to this person that you’re not only leading; you’re also following the greatest Leader of all. God knows what He’s doing by putting you where you are. Ask Himto reveal how he wants to use you where he’s put you, and for the strength to walk that out.