Leaders, Born or Made?

My recent blog on Tim Tebow has gotten a lot of attention among readers.  I have to admit, when I think of great, young leaders, he comes to mind.  I also think of guys like Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, who have led the Lowes 48 Team to four straight Nascar Sprint Cup Championships.

Through the years, I have read dozens of books on leadership. Allow me to summarize a few of the things that stand out to me from those books.

What is leadership?  Leadership is defined as “the ability to influence others.” Leaders can lead people for noble purposes or for evil purposes. The question often comes up, “Are you born a leader or do you learn to be a leader?” The answer to the question is “yes” and “yes.” Some people are born with natural leadership abilities, but leadership can be learned as well.

The model of leadership demonstrated by Jesus was servant leadership. People will follow a leader who does not ask his followers to do something that he would not do himself. By serving others as leaders, we earn the right to lead. People “vest” us with true authority as a result of our service to them.

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:11

The real test of a leader is in his private life.  The tragic story of Tiger Woods comes to mind here.  As I wrote recently in a blog entry called, Will You Ever Cheer for Tiger Again, our private lives takes discipline. True leaders have discipline and integrity, not merely an image.  Image is what people think we are; integrity is what we really are! Leaders need to be people of integrity—honest, genuine, consistent, and transparent. They need to have strong spiritual disciplines in the areas of Bible study, prayer, and church attendance.

Leaders need to carefully guard their time. Elton Trueblood wrote, “A public man, though he is necessarily available at many times, must learn to hide. If he is always available, he is not worth enough when he is available.” Gordon MacDonald asked one of the most profound questions a leader must face, “Are we going to order our inner worlds so that they will create influence on the outer world? Or will we neglect our private worlds and thus permit the outer sphere to shape us?” This is the choice we have to make every day of our lives. That’s what Paul seemed to say in Romans 12:2.

 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this [outer] world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

 “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.” Romans 12:2 (Phillips)

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