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Unlikely Leaders

Julie SunneJulie Sunne

I never thought of myself as a leader. As a housewife and stay-at-home/work-from-home mom the majority of my adult life, I provided for and encouraged my little clan and a few others. As a blogger, my words reached a few more. But my influence really didn’t extend very far.

How could I be considered a leader or have anything to offer leaders? I had to do some rethinking about leadership.

To me, leaders are the biblical heroes like King David, Moses, and Paul. They are the real-life influencers like leadership mentor Michael HyattBible Study guru Liz Curtis Higgs, comedian Ken Davis, Christian encourager Lysa Terkeurst, pastor Max Lucado, or disability champion Joni Eareckson Tada.

My daily living has nothing to do with being a leader.

Or does it?

A Leader Is… After some time in prayer, in processing the request to be a contributor, I began to look at what defines a leader.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes a leader as “a person who leads.” (You have to love it when a word is defined by using the base of the word being defined.) To lead is “to guide on a way, especially by going in advance” or “to direct the operations, activity, or performance of.”

I saw my life as simply providing for my family, being a servant. But through my serving, they thrived. My influence guided and encouraged my children down the path God created for them. In other words, I was leading them.

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant. (Matthew 20:26)

Unlikely Leader

I saw myself as just a mom, just a wife, just a blogger … an unlikely leader.

I think of real leaders as those who speak in front of audiences of hundreds and thousands. I think of leaders as those who directly influence many. I think of leaders as those who others go to with questions, look to for advice, and watch to determine their next step. I think leaders must have impressive resumes, long histories of big accomplishments, and many followers.

And I don’t believe I’m alone in my impressions.

To those of us not in the corporate or ministry world, leadership seems somewhat foreign and rather spectacular. 

We have a tendency to miss the fact that Jesus began His leadership ministry when He was a carpenter in Nazareth, King David a shepherd boy, Moses a displaced former slave turned royalty turned wanderer, and Paul was a persecutor. Despite their seemingly modest beginnings, certainly nobody can deny their leadership.

Although many of us may seem like unlikely leaders, when we guide even one we are leaders indeed.

The Choice

Whether we are titled leaders or not, those of us who influence even one or two need to consider an even more important question. The question is not whether we are leaders, but how we will shepherd those we influence.

Do we merely want the prestige and glory of leading or do we want to make a positive difference in the lives of those we guide?

There are many out there who claim the title of leader. There are many more who are surprised to find themselves cast in that role.

Some lead well, others not so well.

The difference is where they choose to focus. Those in the “not so well” category, lead while looking at their own needs and desires while the “well” leaders look outside themselves. A good leader’s devotion to and concern for their people spur them to a higher calling, one that doesn’t just look at an end result but at the growth that occurs in getting there.

A good leader is one who doesn’t only grow a business or ministry or just meet family circumstances, but who builds the people they lead as well. 

When we make our leadership (in whatever form it takes) about Him instead of us, we are sure to lead well. God assured many biblical leaders it would be so.

God doesn’t call everyone to lead hundreds, but whether it’s one or one thousand, He promises to meet us in that calling. The words of Yahweh to Moses when he felt insecure about his role to lead the Israelites out of Egypt ring true for us today. “I will certainly be with you…” (Exodus 3:12). As He did with Moses, the Lord takes unlikely leaders and guides us with His truth and His Spirit. He leads us perfectly so we can lead others well.

So when you don’t feel like a leader, step forth in obedience anyway. God has promised: He will certainly be with you. You just never know where you might find yourself.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Pause and Reflect:

– Julie Sunne

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Julie Sunne
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