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What is Leadership? Part 3

Everyone can exercise leadership regardless of title, writes Darren Blaney as he continues his series on leadership

Part 1: Do Baptist churches need leaders?
What is Leadership? Part 2

Father daughter300Last time I reflected on the need for churches to follow a more robustly biblical understanding of leadership. This leads to the obvious question, “So what exactly is leadership?”

Most books or courses on the subject begin with one or more definitions of what leadership is. Yet surely it's obvious...isn't it? Well maybe not!

Perhaps a good place for any emerging or aspiring leader to begin is to ask oneself: "How do I define leadership?” Indeed, it would make for an interesting discussion at a Deacons' or Elders' meeting.

John C Maxwell, a committed Christian and widely considered as one of America's experts on leadership, offers his own definition:

Leadership is Influence.
Nothing More; Nothing Less.

Maxwell further states that everything he learned about leadership, he learned from the Bible. Thus, without putting words into his mouth, he would claim that this is also the Bible's general understanding of the issue.

His definition sounds simple, almost too simple. And yet, when one begins to think through some of its consequences, one sees that it is anything but.

So, if Leadership is Influence it follows that;

#1. Leadership is NOT a Title or a Position.

A title or a position may give one the opportunity to exercise leadership, but that is all. Having a title or a position does not make one a leader. All would-be leaders would do well to have that last statement tattooed on their foreheads and to repeat it out loud in front of a mirror every morning and evening. It is perhaps the most significant realisation that a leader can make.

At best titles or positions are an invitation to grow into becoming a leader.

#2. Everyone Can Exercise Leadership.

You may not have the title or the position, but if you are exercising influence then you are leading. And everyone can exercise influence. This takes us back to Jesus' teaching about His followers being salt and light. These are metaphors of change, of influence, of leadership. It is true to say, I believe, that every Christian is called to exercise leadership in his or her world, to further the gospel and the Kingdom.

#3. Leadership Can Be Learned.

Some people may have more or less natural abilities in influencing than other people seem to have. However, influencing is firstly about character and example, and every Christian should be aiming to become more Christlike. Secondly, influencing is a skill—and skills can be learned! Indeed, every Christian should aspire to develop and grow and so become a person of influence for the glory of God.

Application: The Influence Grid.

Take a few minutes to think of those you are already influencing. You may be surprised at just how many lives you could be affecting already without realising it.

Area:                                              Names:


Work Colleagues


School/College Friends



CU People


Social Contacts


The Revd Darren Blaney is Pastor of Herne Bay Baptist Church


Darren Blaney, 21/10/2014
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