I just finished with an hour and a half meeting with a University of Alaska, Fairbanks student at The Grind here in Girdwood. She wanted to talk about “Leadership” with someone who was a leader in the community…but not in a way that was based upon financial leadership. Apparently, I qualified. This was a good exercise. It forced me to think about leadership qualities in general and what specifically it meant for me. And, as I thought about it, I’m not sure I’m a great leader or even a very good one at times. I can think of so many instances where, if I had been a better leader, better stuff would have happened. However, as I look back, I’ve found myself in leadership positions for much of my life…youth group…college fraternity…church…Lions Club…PTA…etc. And I’m not so sure I was the best person for those positions at the time but I was the one who was willing. Perhaps a willingness to lead is part of it.
The think I kept coming back to is vision. A leader needs to be like the champion chess player who is thinking 20 moves ahead. A leader needs to be able to see the whole playing field. A leader can’t suffer from myopia. A leader needs to see what’s coming, have a vision, and be able to cast that vision in such a way that persons follow along. A leader needs to communicate in such a way that others can “catch the vision.” Otherwise, you just have one crazy person with an idea and no followers. It’s like the following TED video:
Without followers there is no leading taking place. It’s just one crazy person with an idea.
Our scriptures tell us in Proverbs 29:18:
Where there is no vision, the people perish.
I talked about a lot.
Another thing I spent some time talking about is recognizing who it is that needs to be on board for something to happen. In my first church, I recognized that the United Methodist Women’s Group was really the gatekeepers of the church. If they were on board, it could happen. But, as pastor, if I didn’t have their support, I was going to have difficulty proceeding with whatever idea, vision, thought, plan, program it was that I had. I remember the story of Under Armor, the athletic wear. When that company was starting out, it had what they thought was a good product and thought it would prove beneficial to athletes. However, they had to convince them to wear clothing that was, in a real sense, modeled on female undergarments — nylons — stockings. The plan of the company was to get some big stars on board and, if they liked the product and used it, others would join up. That’s what they did. That’s what happened. And Under Armor is everywhere in the sporting world now.
So, for the church or our communities, we need to see what groups or persons need to be on board as early adopters. We need to know who our first followers will be. They are the ones that become the best evangelists for us. Even Jesus needed his disciples and the apostles. He needed someone to get on board and share the vision and message that was proclaimed to them.