Quiet Leadership

Emily Teterud: Associate Marketing Director

What comes to mind when someone points out good leadership? Good speaking skills? Someone who can motivate and direct a crowd? Vision and goal-setting? Charisma? A dominant personality? Yes! I think of those things too. There are stereotypical characteristics that we tend to associate with the ideal leader. And rightly so!

But, I want to point out a different kind of leadership that I think gets overlooked much of the time.

It doesn’t get the same limelight as dominant leadership. I would argue that it sometimes doesn’t get recognized at all. That doesn’t, however, negate its importance or validity. The kind of leadership I’m talking about is often identified as “servant leadership.”

Take a moment to read 1 Timothy 4:1-16. The part I’d love to focus on is verse twelve and fifteen:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity…Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

What I find so interesting in these verses is that these instructions given to Timothy from the Apostle Paul are clearly for him to “command and teach,” however, when we read about how to go about this teaching, much of this chapter refers to training yourself to be godly (v.7). It’s refreshing to be reminded that in order to influence and teach well, we ourselves as leaders must be training ourselves to be godly. “Set an example,” Paul says, in the way we live. There are a few things that give me hope from this passage.

  • In an extremely discouraging and hopeless world when it comes to people living godly lives, this is a reminder that we are not to sit back and do nothing. We lead by the way we live our lives. That’s a 24-7 commitment to making the world a better place. Phew—good leadership isn’t for the faint of heart. But I find comfort in this because sometimes I take a look at the state of things in our world and I think…what difference can I make? I’m just one person. Well folks…imagine what would happen if everyone in the world who thought that would focus on living godly lives like 1 Timothy 4 teaches. It’s almost like God knows what He’s talking about.
  • If you think you’re not a leader because you don’t match the list of characteristics in the intro of this article, then you’re mistaken! I think your gifting and your personality uniquely and effectively reach a group of people God wants you to be influencing for good. Paul says that persevering in diligence to living a godly life will benefit “your hearers.” Who are your “hearers?” Each of them is an opportunity for you to lead through example.
  • We are given clear instructions on what effective leadership looks like. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” If you need reminders on what a godly life is, I would encourage you to read the Bible. Seems like a cliché or contrite answer. It’s not. Read it! And read it well.

So leaders, we have our work cut out for us. If you’re spending much of your time focusing on how to point out strengths and weaknesses in others, trying to tell people what to do, trying to coin phrases that will sound cool in the realm of leadership, be sure to balance that out with continuous training on your own godly life development. Only then, in my opinion, will your leadership be successful on an eternal timeline.

We often look for ways to reach Millennials or how to best lead them. I get this question a lot as a Millennial. I love people’s earnest desire to reach the next generation and to do it well. I would offer this one piece of advice to reach Millennials when it comes to God’s Kingdom: Be authentic in the way you live your life. I believe that God’s Word, the way He tells us to live, and the Truth His Salvation gives us is extremely attractive on its own. So, if we as leaders believe that and are actively investing in it for our own lives, people (and yes, this includes the ever-mysterious Millennial generation) will notice. Lead by example. It works! People don’t want to be told what to do from a soap box. But I believe that genuine love of Jesus is contagious and attractive. In many circles, it may take a quiet, but constant leader to show the way through modeling it.

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Quiet Leadership

| Discipleship, Leadership |
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