Is leadership something we're born with, or is it something we learn?
Some people seem to be born with leadership skills. These people may be more charismatic, sometimes more extraverted, more affirming. Maybe he or she was president of their class and captain of their teams in high school. Their voice holds the room's attention, and their ideas catch on throughout an organization.
You Have to Learn Leadership
But, in my experience, natural leaders often rely on instincts. Instincts work for a while, but eventually they fail. They do not scale up to tackling new or more complex leadership challenges—to creating plans for strategic leadership or for effecting system-wide change. That takes processes, strategies and tools that don't always come with instinct or experience.
Other people are dropped into leadership positions without natural leadership gifting. Maybe it's the wise, compassionate woman who is asked to lead her Bible study. Maybe it's the pastor who loves theology or biblical counseling but feels overwhelmed when faced with leading a congregation.
That's the situation I was in during my second year of a church plant years ago. We successfully launched the church, counting 234 people in attendance for the first Sunday. But then we moved past the frenetic energy of the launch, saw our numbers settle around a hundred and slid towards rhythms of regular church life. And I realized I did not know what to do next. I was stuck, and leadership was the lever I needed to get through.
I am not a natural leader. I am a nerd, thank you very much. While some of my good friends were leading student government in school, I was reading the encyclopedia for fun.
This love of learning became a powerful tool when I got stuck after our church's launch. I was in the middle of a D.Min. program during the launch, and I focused my dissertation on leadership and influence. Through that process, I learned tools of leadership. I learned how to ethically apply principles of persuasion to lead our church to where God wanted us to be.
You Can Learn
Let me repeat that: I learned leadership. Studying leadership principles provided the tools I needed to get unstuck and lead my church well.
That experience showed me that we can learn leadership skills. If you are placed in a position of leadership and you don't have a natural gift for leadership, you may need to express leadership that's not in your natural gift set. You will need to fall back on tools and processes to do that—tools and processes that can be learned.
You do not have to be a natural-born leader to become a strong leader. You can learn how to lead, to move towards strategic goals, and to change your church for God's glory.
Furthermore, leadership is different depending on who you are. Some of the best leaders I know are introverted. I've seen great leaders who are men, and I've seen great leaders who are women. I've seen them young and old. But, they all know, you have to find the way of leadership that works for you.
Leaders are Learners
There is an old phrase, "Leaders are learners." I think that is true, but would add you can learn your way into leadership.
Most pastors I know have had the same experience over and over. They've not learning, but just repeating the experience of the last year or years.
So, get some books. Do some reading. Get a mentor.
Leadership can be learned if we will be learners.
Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission and Evangelism at Wheaton Collegeand serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two master's degrees and two doctorates and has written dozens of articles and books. Read more about Ed at EdStetzer.com.
This article originally appeared at edstetzer.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.
Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.