I love lego. I have many found memories of building, destroying, and playing with lego. Even in my mid twenties I still love sitting down for an afternoon full of adventures and small multi-colored brick buildings.
Have you ever been at a point when you are building something and it just wasn’t going the way you thought? Wasn’t turning out the way you wanted and you had to tear it all down and start again? I had a moment like that this past week, when I went to see a old family friend preform in front a sold out crowd at the Winnipeg Concert Center.
My view of leadership is being transformed. God is inviting me to tear down the odd, and not quite right understanding that I have developed in order to help build something beautiful.
As I sat in the crowd seeing a man sharing about Freedom Road, the amazing work that Winnipeg Harvest is doing, and compelling and leading people to take responsibility, I was struck. He is using the gifts and passions that God gave him to change his city and community. This of course, is not COMPLETELY outside of our world view. We often look to popular musicians, actors, etc. as leaders and social leaders.
On my way into the concert I ran into an old friend who was taking an evening to relax away from the three children that her and her husband just adopted. THREE KIDS! She is a teacher, and when I reflected on her and her husbands life changing decision I am once again compelled by the way that they are leading and compelling people around her to see the needs of her city and community.
Both of these people demonstrated leadership in very different ways.
The question of what it means to be a leader is often forefront in my mind as I work for an organization which is all about calling and equipping young people to lead…
What does it mean to be a leader?
Can anyone be a leader?
In an intriguing article, David Zwieg investigates the people in organizations he deems as ‘the invisible’. These are not people who are doing more mundane task or are perhaps front line workers. These are individuals in management positions whose desire for recognition differs from the average person. This challenges the common understanding of striving and reaching for authority and recognition (read more at: https://hbr.org/2014/05/managing-the-invisibles).
I believe my understanding of leadership is changing from the typical characteristics of: confrontational, authoritarian, competitive to the characteristics I see in Mary (and yes, Jesus also).
This time of year I think the story of Mary is pertinent. Mary by all accounts was not meant to be a leader. Being a young women in her historical context put her quite low in social status. Yet, we see that by her saying ‘yes’ to God she leads in her own way, and (regardless of ones beliefs) has quite an impact on the world.
One can still lead with competence, authority, and a desire to see things happen and yet be humble, compassionate, and loving. If people were more focused on who they are instead of who they want to be, I think that the world would be full of highly capable, life filled leaders. This does not mean they would be standing in front of a crowd (it could), maybe it means that they invite others to love children the way they were meant to be loved, or even to lay your life TOTALLY DOWN trusting that God will care for you.
The question that I want to begin asking not only the students and staff I work with, but also my self when discussing leadership is:
Who has God created you to be?
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”