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Get Low: 3 Lessons On Leadership

By Peggy Kelley. 
The following has been reblogged from

There are so many articles, books and quotes about leadership floating around these days. I find myself cringing over most of them. Sometimes the word leadership itself is off-putting. I picture older men with fancy watches and glued on smiles, ready to dole out tedious jobs to unimportant underlings.

But there are a lot more ways to be a leader, I know. I realized a few years ago that I have some leadership gifts, but it was a confusing revelation because those gifts are paired with other traits which don’t appear to mix well with being in charge of a group of people.

For a few weeks in August I was able to test out those gifts while co leading just a small portion of an outreach in Thailand for a Discipleship Training School. I didn’t go in thinking,“how can I be a good leader?” so much as, “Lord, help me do right by your children.”

I discovered several interesting things about Leading.

1. Leading is not about being the most aggressive, or even the most assertive.

Being from America and growing up as I did with a single mom, I have learned the how and why of both. No one else will do it for you, right? Being aggressive is like spice in food and it’s best utilized in advocating for others. Walking with Jesus, though, with His unique example of love, I find that particular leadership style easily squashes the real goal of community.

Charging ahead often sacrifices relationship for efficiency.

While being decisive is an important part of leading, I also want to note here that the leadership quality that counts is not the ability to come up with the right decision, but the wisdom to recognize and choose that decision, even if it’s proposed by someone else in the group and doesn’t serve the leader’s personal desires.


2. Leading leaves room for people to make mistakes.

This is a lesson I learned while teaching. People learn things best when the question is their own and they’ve gotten their hands dirty to find the solution. I’m always available for giving advice (believe me, I often have to tell myself to wait to be asked or at least ask if it’s wanted) but if I’m too eager to tell someone The Way It Is, I may keep them from discovering it more deeply for themselves.

Obviously there is a place for giving advice or I wouldn’t be writing this blog post, but even what you take away from reading this will be just a line or two that you were probably already chewing on in your mind.


3. Leading means laying down your life.

This was the biggest thing God kept repeating while I was in Thailand. First through Philippians 2:1-11 and then through of Mark 10:42-45. Jesus laid down his life and invites his followers to do the same.

If you think being the leader means being the Big Shot with the heaviest vote, please resign right now and spend a while cleaning bathrooms without getting credit.

The whole point of leading people is to help them grow into who they were made to be. You might think it’s about a particular project or product, but it’s always really about the people. They might be made to take your job. Let’s hope they are, and that you spend your gifts pouring into that potential.

Often we are led by people who use their position to get what they want. What grows in us, because of that, is the desire to be our own boss, if not to simply replace the person in charge. What follows is this cycle where the person in charge gets their way and everyone else must obey until they, too can get out from under that tyranny to take hold of the reigns for another round of tyranny.

But friends, leading is not actually about Being In Charge and it’s especially not about Getting Your Way. Leading is about being the first to sacrifice, the first to do what is wise and loving for the good of others. Leading is about showing people the way forward and helping them go farther, grow more, be more. Leading is about initiating vulnerability, being trustworthy, being honest when it’s painful and persevering when others want to give up.

If we follow Jesus and walk in his example, our lives will not be about building influence, but about continuously laying down our rights.

After all, the only legitimate Big Shot that walked on earth laid down His heavy vote to help us go where we couldn’t, and be who we weren’t. His life is the leadership model I’m looking to follow.