Would you consider yourself to be a leader?
For many years, my answer was a resounding no. You see, I didn’t have a “leadership personality.” I was the oldest sibling in my family, yes, but that mostly translated to a tendency towards bossiness. I wasn’t the person who walked into a room and immediately gained the following of all the other kids. I hated being in front of people. And I never pictured myself as a CEO, president, or speaker.
Then I learned something that completely reframed my concept of leadership.
Dr. Jeff Myers teaches a series of leadership classes for Unbound. In the very first lecture of the first course, he says this:
“Leadership is not necessarily about how much power you have, it’s about whether you’re operating in the design that God gave you to influence other people, and to create change.”
Leadership = Influence
Let’s back up. Leadership equals influence? What does that mean? Take a moment and consider the people who have had the greatest influence on your life. Chances are, those people were not leaders by the world’s standards. They probably didn’t have unusual power or a fancy title. “Chief Director of Influencing Kaitlyn’s Life,” “The Loving Unconditionally Specialist,” or “Executive of Scrubbing Floors and Teaching Life Lessons” aren’t placards that I see posted on the doors of those who influenced me. Yet my life was changed by people who lived life faithfully in the smallest of ways–who noticed things that I didn’t see, who loved unconditionally, who modeled Biblical servanthood, and so much more.
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If that’s not what leadership is about, then frankly, I don’t have any interest in the subject. But I think that is exactly what leadership is about. It’s about life-on-life influence. If we follow Jesus’ example, it’s about serving those around us. It’s about impacting a few people, who go on to influence others, which creates an ever-expanding ripple effect.
This reframing has two immediate effects:
- If I am currently breathing and have any interaction with a fellow human being (whether that is my sibling, the UPS driver, or a friend), I am a leader. Right here, right now, no matter how mundane that looks.
- If that is true, then I am immediately responsible to become a good leader.
But wait, I say: That sounds really hard! Yes. Yes, it is. But here’s what I have discovered:
Hard ≠ Bad
We live in a culture that often equates hard with bad. But that assumption is entirely false. In reality, usually the very best things come from the brutally, want-to-quit hard. Raising a family is hard. Being a fighter pilot is hard. Living a fulfilling, God-glorifying life is hard.
Don’t shy away from the hard.
Here’s the thing: you will fail, and you will mess up. There’s just no way around it. We’re broken human beings. But those mistakes are opportunities for God to be glorified. And often, failure produces the best growth. Commit to learning from your failures and giving God the glory always.
In my own life, I’ve often become the most influential simply by being the person who never quits. In a work scenario or in a family, if you are able to stay focused on the vision and keep giving excellence no matter what the obstacles are, you’ll likely find yourself a leader, regardless of your title. People naturally turn to resilient people. If you can learn to face the hard, look it straight in the eye, and choose not to back down, you’ll possess a rare skill that will unlock a whole new level of influence.
- Leadership = Influence
- Hard ≠ Bad
Let’s live as people who are bold – who step into the hard and pray for the wisdom to influence the people around us. If those people are your presidential cabinet and the people who elected you the leader of their country, so be it. You can be faithful there. If instead those people are your little sisters, or your older brother, or your co-workers at Chick-fil-a, let’s be faithful there too.
In the end, those relationships might have a bigger impact than we can ever imagine.
To learn more about the Signature Leadership Course series from Unbound, schedule an appointment with our admissions team.
Kaitlyn Brush is an Academic Specialist for Unbound. She is a soon-to-be Unbound graduate, and some of her best memories, closest friendships, and most important lessons have come from serving on several Unbound student leadership teams, including the Student Leadership Initiative and the 2020 and 2021 National Student Cabinets.
Kaitlyn is passionate about good stories, strong community, and discovering beauty in all its forms. When she’s not doing school or spending time with Unbound students (or often even when she is), you might find her sitting around a campfire, canoeing on the river, hiking, traveling, or spending time with her family.