There is a pervasive stereotype that leaders are the ones in the limelight, the ones on stage, the extroverts with big personalities whose faces are on the front page. Like many stereotypes, I think this one is often unfair.
Some of the best leaders I know don’t demand up-front attention, but their leadership is powerful because of the fruit it brings.
Their teams or organizations or the individuals who come in contact with them are grown and propelled forward by the vision they have and by their strength, even if their vision and strength are quiet and unassuming.
One of the reasons I think quiet leadership like this is so powerful is because the burden of responsibility is taken off one person and transferred to many.
A group of people living up to their full potential is truly more capable than a single person living up to his full potential. This is easy to admit. Which is better—one person who is living out the gospel or a group of people with unified vision and purpose, all contributing equally to the community in his or her own unique way?
The answer is obvious.
So a leader, then, might sometimes be the person from stage, teaching and explaining and casting vision, but a leader might just as often be the one who is discipling, training or just living a life worth mimicking behind the scenes.
Chances are, this is happening over coffee or lunch or at home or in an office. No stage (or lights) needed.
The other thing I love about this view of leadership is that it acts as an important reminder that we are all leaders, if we’ll accept the job title.
We are leaders in our homes, with our families, in our marriages, at our work. We all have the opportunity to be someone who sets the tone for the year or the week or the day.
We can choose to not just respond to what life hands us but to set the pace, to cast vision, to inspire change.
When we do this, we suddenly start to impact people around us without even realizing we’re doing it. Their lives will change as our lives change. We can make an impact without asking for any credit.
The final reason I love this view of leadership is that my favorite leaders are humble people.
Some of those very humble people are “limelight” people, in the sense that they are well-known and sometimes on stage. But none of them are begging for the attention or asking for praise. In fact, each of them are willing to work hard and live their life in an honest, congruent way.
Their main objectives are to do what God has called them to do and to help others discover and do the same. They’re contributing to the kingdom in their unique way, and they’re doing it to the very best of their ability. I know up-front people who are doing this, and I know behind-the-scenes people who are doing it. But all of them are humble.
And people are noticing and changing.
It doesn’t take fame or notoriety to live this way. In fact, it doesn’t take anything other than just a willingness to work hard, be humble and welcome the grace of Jesus.
With more than a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church. Justin serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominantly working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.