Perry Emerick – Mesa Campus Pastor
I have always tended to consider myself a reluctant leader. Much of that is because for most of my life I have chosen to measure any abilities or opportunities I might have against those who are the best in that area and concluded that since I don’t believe I have the same level of ability than I have little value to offer in that area. It is something I have managed well enough, but it is a constant battle, one that I have allowed to restrict my effort at times. Recent events have caused me to really examine that part of my life and work to change it.
It began with a timely conversation with a friend of mine who shared some critical observation about my leadership in some areas that I was choosing not to look at honestly and adjust appropriately. It was not a critical conversation in a negative way, but one in which this friend of mine dispassionately chose to talk about some things in a way that I knew in my heart needed to be addressed, but had allowed fear to compromise. This began a time of personal critical reflection on my leadership. It was followed by a number of other conversations and meetings with others that expanded not only me vision of issues with my leadership, but also challenged me to honestly assess my view of my leadership.
Out of that I began to re-read a number of influential leadership books I had read before, as well as listen to and read a number of leadership podcasts and blog posts in an effort to re-engage my leadership learning. I am excitedly looking forward to the Global Leadership Summit as well. Yet in all that, there was this nagging fear about whether or not I was the leader I needed to be. It was during a time of reflection and prayer that the parable of the talents came to mind which can be found in Matt. 25:14-30. In this parable, Jesus tells of a master who before leaving on a long trip gives three different servants three different amounts of currency, a currency known as talents, to manage for him while he is away. When he returns, he asks them for a report of what they did with them. Here is their response:
“And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’” – Matt. 25:20-25
The first two fully invested all of the masters talents and received a 100% return on them, to which the master was well pleased. Yet as I was reflecting on this, picturing myself in this story, I felt as though I was a one talent servant who did invest what I was given and received a return, but then God said to me, “but I gave you more than one talent!” This is not about money, but about actual talents and gifting from God. It was a very surreal experience as I considered the possibility that perhaps God had entrusted to me more than I was willing to see. And because I was unwilling to see it, I was not investing it to receive a greater return for Him. The thought of this was overwhelmingly sad to me.
God has allowed for me to be in a position of leadership; leadership in my home and in my work and in other places. And the truth is, he has allowed you to be in positions like that as well. Yet for some of us, our reluctance to consider that God has equipped us with the talents to lead in greater ways in different areas may be limiting the return that God is hoping to see from us. So, how do you figure out if you have more than you believe?
- Consider where you are at – Are you influencing in areas that you feel are beyond you, yet somehow seem to be accomplishing what was asked? Have you been placed in a position to which no other can fill your role? Are people looking to you for leadership or advise beyond even your position?
- Consider what you have done – Where have you found success, even when you didn’t feel like you would be good at it? What are areas where you have influenced beyond what you thought? What are areas of interest of yours that have naturally brought out a leadership perspective
- Consider what wise people around you are seeing in you – It is important that you surround yourself with wise and discerning people who can see areas in your life that you cannot, or will not, and have the credibility to show you where you can grow and be stretched. This is both in the positive and the negative, but understand that negative observations can serve to help you grow positively. Cultivate those relationships and influences and invite them to speak honestly and lovingly into your life.
- Submit those to God and commit to learning – This final step is sometimes the one we want to skip, but if you really want to invest fully in all of the talents you may have, you take all that you learn and invite God and His Spirit into it, to direct and develop you into the person he wants you to be. In addition, become a student of leadership. There are so many incredible resources for leadership out there and when combined with a desire to honor God and lead those he has put under your leadership and influence with Godly stewardship, can absolutely help you become the leader he has called you to be.
I once heard Pastor and leader Andy Stanley talk about God given leadership this way – “Leadership is a stewardship; it’s temporary, and you’re accountable.” Embrace the stewardship of leadership before you have to account for it, so on that day you can say, you fully invested all that was entrusted to you, not just the parts you were comfortable with!
I am still at heart a reluctant leader, for lots of reasons, but I am also a motivated leader, desiring to do all I can to honor the one who has entrusted whatever talents he has give me to the fullest for His glory. I hope and pray you will strive to do the same.