Thursday, March 25, 2010

You have a decision to make

NOTE:  This post is part of a blog training series on leadership development, originally authored for CTI Music Ministries.     Read the series introduction | view the whole series

“We are to be shapers of our culture rather than allowing ourselves to be shaped by it.” – Phil Lutz

Do you think of yourself as a leader (or potential leader?)

Try to get past the general “everyone can make a difference” positive-thinking rhetoric that our culture promotes, and consider the question seriously: do you really comprehend and believe in the potential you have for leadership?

If not, you might be subscribing to a somewhat narrow and limiting definition of leadership as reinforced by our culture. This definition encourages assumptions similar to the following:

  • Leadership means being in charge: directing others to reach a particular goal;
  • Leadership requires authority: it’s a position that I need to be put into by someone else;
  • Leadership involves teaching others how to do something that I know how to do (which means that I need to know more about it, be more experienced in it, or be more competent than them at whatever it is I’m leading them towards.)
  • Leadership is a status earned by putting in my time and good behavior… or a privilege and authority I deserve because of my depth of experience in a particular area. 

Now, some of these assumptions may be applicable to what I refer to as “positional” leadership. You may not think that you meet some of these qualifications, and that may be impacting whether or not you view yourself as a leader. But when we talk about CTI’s vision to develop Christian leadership and character in young musicians, we’re embracing a much broader and more inclusive view of what it means to be a leader. We’re talking about how we choose to use the capacity we’ve been given to shape our culture.

Make no mistake about the fact that you have been given such capacity. Every one of us has. And it doesn’t matter if our individual capacity is limited or expansive… what matters is what we choose to do with whatever capacity we’ve been given.

In Mark 12, Jesus observes people giving money to the temple treasury. Some people gave large amounts, but Jesus commended the widow who gave everything she had, even though it amounted to much less than what anyone else had given. They had given some out of their abundance, but she had given everything she had. She maximized her impact within the bounds of what she had been given. Jesus found this to be significant, and told his disciples that she had actually given more than all the others. (Mark 12:41-44 / Luke 21:1-4.)

Don’t believe for a second that your “limited” capacity to have an impact makes what you have to offer insignificant to Jesus. He’s not at all concerned with how much you’ve been given. He’s interested in what you choose to do with it.

The same is true of your capacity to lead. I don’t believe that leadership is a measure of how much influence you have. I believe it’s a measure of how effectively you use whatever influence you do have… and we have all been given some degree of influence.

If you agree, then you’re on the hook to make a decision about your personal leadership development, because what we choose to do with the potential God has given us is a matter of stewardship:

  • Will I choose to look for the areas where God has given me some capacity to influence, or
  • Am I too comfortable with not discovering them, since I know that discovering them will cost me something… perhaps everything I have, as it did the widow?
You cannot refuse to choose. Not intentionally making a choice is choosing the latter.


Week 1 reflection questions:
  1. Are you in the habit of thinking of yourself as leader? If not, what patterns of thinking do you need to change in order to start seeing yourself this way?
  2. Do you agree with the notion that leadership isn’t a measure of how much influence you have, but of how effectively you use whatever influence you do have?
  3. Do you agree with / understand the importance of developing leadership in yourself as a matter of stewardship?
  4. Are you already aware of areas where God has given you some capacity for influence? Might there be other areas you aren’t yet aware of?

This week’s definition:
INFLUENCE = our capacity to shape our culture and the people around us.

This week’s quote:
“We are to be shapers of our culture rather than allowing ourselves to be shaped by it.” – Phil Lutz

This week’s assignment:
Reflect on and identify areas where God has given you some capacity to shape your culture and the people around you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A leadership development blog series

Over the next 5 weeks I will be releasing a series of posts that I have written as part of a leadership development and training curriculum for CTI Music Ministries.  Although they have been written specifically for participants in our fulltime ministry program, I believe that they deal with principles that are essential for everyone who professes a desire to be formed in the image of Christ.  I offer them here in the hope that God may use them to encourage and challenge others on the journey.

Look for the first post this Thursday.

You can view the entire series here.