John Maxwell has two statements frequently quoted both in business circles and in the church. (Maxwell, by the way, is a pastor in the Wesleyan Church)

“Leadership is influence.”

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

Having been a leader in a variety of settings for more than four decades, I can attest to the validity of both statements.  To them, I might add a third.

“Leadership takes you to places and responsibilities that cannot be avoided if you  truly are leading.”

As a pastoral leader, I have experienced this particular truth with a frequency that often makes leadership a constant burden. Some of those obligations: (1) Being the first to speak an uncomfortable truth about the way a group is operating because to remain silent will simply allow the following of a path that will lead to failure.  (2) The challenging of those who have been in authority before you who want to operate in a world that no longer exists. (3) The disciplining of a worker or another leader because they are undermining the core values of the group.  (4) Sharing the “behind the scenes” pain of a fellow leader, so that they can continue to carry out their public responsibility. (5) To be the first to start down a new path that no one else yet sees, but where the group needs to go.

It would be naive to say that there is no unseen burden to leadership. It would be unrealistic to expect everyone in the group to understand (or even be fully aware of) this burden.  It would be destructive to the people you lead to avoid the burden because it will be unrecognized or maybe even misunderstood.

But it would also be self-defeating to miss the point that the burdens of leadership are opportunities to influence your group towards greater faithfulness to the vision and greater fruitfulness in their efforts. For when you speak the truth that transforms, or exercise the discipline that corrects and protects, or prod the reluctant towards their greater potential, or step out to show them a new direction -you become the agent of greatness that helps equip and empower your group to the greatness that is their potential.


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