A leader’s highest calling is to develop other leaders, says Natalie Williams
I don’t know what I imagined leadership would be like but, for some reason, it has come as quite a shock to me that it is really hard work – and that it’s not really about the leader at all.
I’m not sure why I thought it would be; the Bible certainly doesn’t paint that picture. Perhaps it’s because, as a new Christian, the anthem of my late teenage years was the Delirious? worship anthem ‘History maker’, the chorus of which promised that my little life would make a difference to the whole wide world.
When I took on leading Jubilee+, I was not consciously imagining it would all be about discerning God’s vision for our organisation and then leading everyone purposefully in that direction but, two and a half years in, I realise that I was (subconsciously, at least) under the impression it would look something like that.
Instead, I now realise it has less to do with what my heart is burning with, and a lot more to do with what’s on the hearts of others. One of the biggest challenges of leadership – what I am finding most stretching – is playing my part in helping those around me to thrive. As Craig Groeschel says in his leadership podcast, the highest calling of a leader is to develop other leaders.
My problem is that I don’t really know how to do that. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit it publicly, but the five-plus years of church-based leadership training I have done has taught me lots about the doctrine of Christ (which is great), but not much about, well, actually how to lead people.
At the same time, I am learning that as the leader, when the focus is on me rather than on my team, it is usually because I have made a mistake or could have done something better. And when I was a part of other people’s wider leadership teams, I just didn’t realise how constant and heavy the feedback and opinions can feel.
This morning, I was thanking God that he called me to lead Jubilee+, not because I am the best person for the job, but because I am weak, and his “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). My lack of wisdom does not disqualify me; if anything it is the opposite. The Bible says that the Lord chooses the foolish (1 Corinthians 1:27).
Wonderfully, God gives me wisdom when I ask for it, not meagrely but generously (James 1:5). Even when I get things wrong, David says God teaches me “wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6, ESV).
The weight of leadership leads me back to my Father in heaven time and time again. I have never been as aware of my weaknesses, but I have also never been closer to Jesus. As a learn to lead, it is a joy to discover that I am not at the centre of my leadership – it is about Jesus, and the privilege he has given me: to play a small part in other people becoming all God has made them to be.