Leaders are Built not Found
I first heard that quote from Craig Groeschel, lead pastor of LifeChurch. He brought it up in the context of turning the congregation into leaders for Christ in the community. Like so many other great nuggets we get from pastors like Craig, Rick Warren and more, I immediately applied it to my lens and the ever-present need for more small group leaders.
Before that key moment, my radar was always set to detect the born-leaders. The sort of take charge, on fire for Christ types that are often all too few and far between in the church lobby between services.
Once I applied the leader building lens, however, I found myself in a very target rich environment, as hunters often say.
To quote another leadership guru, John Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, nothing more.” So, who was influencing those around them? Who, through conversation, did I discover held influence in other areas of their life? The answer was pretty simple: just about everyone.
Growing a Follower Into a Leader
I first met Tony through a mutual youth sporting event where both of our sons wound up on the same team. After some quick get to know each other discussion, we found out not only did we go to the same church, but our boys were already friends – our wives were as well.
As we got to know one another better, I quickly saw the influence Tony held – and was acutely aware of the fact that not only did he not see it in himself, he rejected the very notion it was there. And, this became a theme I would encounter again and again and again with others.
Like so many of us, Tony had been the victim of negative talk from people in his life. Those who had influence on him at a young age failed to build him up, but instead tore him down. I’m sure you can either think of someone you know who had the same experience, or maybe you did yourself. Once those negative voices speak into our lives, we often allow them to navigate our future – erecting road blocks between us and the good deeds God prepared in advance for us to do.
Once this became apparent, I felt a nudge in my spirit. An irresistible urge to speak life and encouragement into Tony’s world. I didn’t have any illusions that I could overcome the years of negative reinforcement he’d endured, but I promised God I would, at very least, be a conversational light for him.
At the time, Tony worked at what he described as a dead-end job. He’d been passed over for promotions and simply accepted his lot in life – since it aligned with the negativity he’d been fed about himself.
It was then that I challenged him to start a small group. To take the lead. To be the man God designed him to be, not the failure so many humans told him he was.