Our culture is whirring with conversation and commentary about the opinions of leaders — church, political, entertainment, industry, community, and even Instagram famous. We all want to take a stance on who they are, what their qualifications are, and who has been given permission to lead. I’ve seen more arguments than dialogue.
As God’s church, I find it almost amusing that we are still having conversations about giving permission for each of us to lead in the areas of our gifting and callings, which only God imparts. Isn’t that just like the enemy to get us to talk about it more than put our leadership into action? Isn’t it just like him to trick us into feeling the need to ask for permission from others to lead in our areas of influence more than continuing to walk in the footsteps of the One who’s called us?
By the power of the Holy Spirit, you are a leader.
God has put you in a place of influence and not just in your home. Jesus called each of us to make disciples, fellow Jesus-followers, and how else can we do this in our families, workplaces, communities, and the world without actually leading them to Jesus?
Growing up, I was thankfully instilled with confidence in who I was as a person, without labels or categories. I never stopped to think if I could do or not do something but felt empowered to be fully myself, to grow and help others, and to stand up for truth. I didn’t box myself in because I was a girl, and I didn’t think of myself as a leader or a follower but as a person with ideas and unique talents. Looking back, I guess I was taught how to be a leader from an early age but didn’t realize there was a name for it.
With that gift of leadership instilled in me when I was young, I lived out the role of a leader without the need for approval. I didn’t ask for permission to be a leader; I just was one.
But as I grew up and embraced my faith in Jesus, I began to unpack the complexity of of leadership as a woman, studying how God made me and what He’s called me to as His follower.
Throughout my career and in the church, it has been a struggle to find my place as a leader. There were times when I waited for someone else to call me or give me the role of leader because I thought that was the Christian thing to do. Other times, I was given wonderful opportunities to lead teams. And still, there were very trying times with fellow leaders who tried to take my voice and my ideas because of my age or my gender.
But I’ve come to understand that because of Jesus, I am a leader without a need for a following, permission, or title. It takes the faith I had as a child to be a leader.
Your leadership may be classically defined in a role at a church, non-profit, or business. You may be influencing others with your words online, in books, and through speaking. You may be on a stage or leading in a boardroom. You may lead an industry with your gifts and artistic abilities. Your leadership may look like discipling those younger than you, serving those in need, or creating change in your community. And some of you may not even be aware of your leadership gifts or have been told not to lead where God has gifted you.
No matter if someone has called you a leader or you think that word just doesn’t fit, you need to know this: You are a leader because you are following Jesus.
Whoever you’ve been called to serve, that is who you’re leading to a closer relationship with Jesus. And that is the entire point of your leadership. Leading is not for you or for the accolades and approval of others or for you to have control. God has empowered you to be a leader so you can lead others to Jesus.
We can argue about who a leader really is or we can let our lives reflect how Jesus is leading us into a life of obedience, servanthood, and love for others. Does your leadership exhibit Jesus to those you serve?
The only way I know how to be a leader is to follow the one true king, the ultimate Leader — Jesus. This kind of thinking doesn’t make sense to the world and to those that lead it. But leading by following Jesus is the only path to lasting impact with peace. You first have to follow so you can lead.
Miriam followed God and led millions in worship without permission.
Deborah followed God and led the general into battle to defeat the opposing army because she was the only one who believed God.
Esther followed God and led the king to save God’s people, ignoring the chance of death.
Huldah followed God and led the revival and restoration of God’s people with other prophets.
Mary of Bethany followed God and led with a message of resurrection hope to her peers.
Lydia followed God and led a business that transformed lives and funded worldwide missions.
Priscilla followed God and led a community by her preaching.
You are on this list of leaders, too. God’s truth is working through you, in both seen and unseen ways. You are serving Jesus as a leader, disguised as follower.
So, lead in the way God has made you and with the gifts He has given you. Lead as a servant because you love those that follow you. And above all, follow Jesus so you can lead others well.
Leading by following Jesus is the only path to lasting impact with peace. You first have to follow so you can lead. -Stephanie Bryant: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Like you, I never thought of myself as a leader, I just knew that I wound up in charge of things…a lot. Though my gifting by God suited me to lead, it was in leading that I learned, so distinctly, that I NEEDED to be a follower. This line you wrote is SO true: “You first have to follow so you can lead.” Leading others sent me running into the arms of the Lord. I realized my utter need and dependence upon Him. Apart from Him I could literally do nothing. God taught me to lead with humility vs. arrogance. I had to check my pride at the door. We ALL are leaders, and I feel like times are such that we need to not be waiting for permission to speak up, in love, for what we stand for, in Christ. In a world that is led by popular secular opinion, we NEED Christian leaders that are willing to take a stand for their beliefs. Great post!
Stephanie Bryant says
Thank you, Bev. I love the idea of leadership creating more need for Jesus. Such a true point!
Katherine M Barton says
“Leading by following Jesus is the only path to lasting impact with peace. You first have to follow so you can lead.” -Stephanie Bryant
Your “mission statement” is the only way to live because it is Jesus who comes to us first, as our Savior and our King, leading us as we follow to serve him by His grace, not by our own power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us be Jesus leaders in all we say and do. Katherine M B
Beth Williams says
I never thought of myself as a leader. Just a gal using her God given talents to help others. I’m the sidekick to the performer. Wanting always to be in the background doing the little things necessary to make the big picture come alive. That is upside down to the way the world operates. They want movers, shakers & news makers. Not me. I want to be a wise servant & use my gifts to lead others to Christ. I’m on team Christ working hard down here to shed some light & love in this sin darkened world. Right now I’m going to cook meals for my in-laws. They are dealing with multiple health issues including cancer, stroke & a broken hand. Wanting the world to look & see Christ in me. Pouring out His love to this hurting world. This post reminds me of the song “Christ in Me” by Jeremy Camp. It talks about what the world thinks makes us happy & constantly striving for more. Chorus: So come and empty me So that it’s you I breathe
I want my life to be Only Christ in me So I will fix my eyes ‘Cause you’re my source of life
I need the world to see That it’s Christ in me That it’s Christ in me.
Becky Keife says
“You are a leader because you are following Jesus.” Amen, friend! Let’s keep living this out. xx
In the period of learning to be a leader, there are so many lessons. To be a leader yet humble servant; to be a leader yet it is not about me; To be a leader yet risk it; To be a leader yet love others like Jesus did. To be a leader yet keep moving forward while no body is with you.
I also never think of myself as a leader but following Christ and being close to and led by him in my life…well maybe I can inadvertently lead others to Christ?! Who knows. I feel like I need to be stronger in Christ in order to have the courage to tell others about Jesus. I would rather be so close to Jesus that I’m finally happy, reassured and content because of my relationship with Christ that people close to me will say hey what’s happened to you? I want a bit of that and Christ will work to turn their hearts to him!!
Loved episode 19 by the way!! I am waiting in the middle for Gods voice in scripture or through version or a person to unfold my next step…