On Sunday morning we continued our NextSteps series with a talk entitled “Lead”. What follows is a brief summary of that talk and some questions to help you reflect either on your own or in your small group. You can also listen to the talk or download it from our Sunday Talks Page (the talks are usually available a bit later in the week).
Why do so many of us spend so much of our lives chasing a title or position as if that is what makes a person important or influential? Why wait until you have some recognised status before being a positive influencer where God has placed you right now?
John Maxwell, the world famous leadership consultant, speaker and author once said, “The true measure of leadership is influence- nothing more, nothing less.”
Some people have far more influence than they realise and I believe God is calling some of us to take a next step and lead where he has placed us. Let me give you an example of how God can raise up a person with no real authority, status, title or position in society to influence an entire nation. Let’s read the story of the emerging leadership of David, the shepherd boy destined to become a king.
At the time that these events took place, David was nobody in society, the youngest of eight brothers, the lowest in the pecking order of a little known family, and the one sent on errands like delivering bread and cheese, passing on messages and collecting things. He had no authority at all and yet, right from the beginning of this story, David begins to inspire people.
True leaders aren’t identified by their titles but by their ability to see the bigger picture and to inspire others to do the same. For David the big picture was that a mere man was defying people who seemed to have forgotten that they were not servants of Saul but were in fact servants of the “Living God”. Sometimes God’s people forget who they are and someone needs to remind them of their identity, their purpose and their source of support for the battles they face. David did all of this through the power of influence and he so inspired the soldiers that world quickly spread to Saul that someone in their ranks was not afraid to take a step of faith and take on Goliath. So Saul sends for David and only at this point does David actually volunteer to fight Goliath. Although he has influence, David doesn’t use it to usurp the authority of the king but rather uses this opportunity to try to persuade Saul that the situation is not hopeless after all.
David has been prepared for this moment by God. All his past experiences give him assurance that, even though he has never been in this situation and wasn’t specifically trained for it, his skills are transferable and his experiences of God’s deliverance in the past are the source of his faith in this present scenario. David is able to communicate simply and yet effectively that if God had allowed him to kill lions and bears, God could quite easily give him victory over Goliath. And so it was that a young shepherd was able to influence a king with a high title and position. Leadership is influence.
David didn’t fit the same leadership mould that Saul did so he doesn’t try to act in the same way as Saul by wearing his armour. Leadership skills can be learnt from others but that doesn’t mean you should copy everything other leaders do. David stays true to who he is, and that’s why he was able to influence the army of Israel in a way that Saul had failed to do. They saw someone different, someone at peace with who God made him to be, someone whose trust was not in his own strength and who was therefore not so afraid of his own weaknesses or lack of formal training that he failed to do what God was calling him to do.
David’s motive for wanting to lead is not to gain glory for himself but to give glory to God and to help others to advance in their own faith. That’s exactly what happened. As David struck down Goliath, he also struck down the fear that had been crippling the army of Israel. They were renewed in their faith and led to a dramatic victory that nobody but David had the vision and faith to see. So it happened that the future of Israel was altered by the influence of an unknown youngster from an unknown family who had more influence over the nation than the king.
Questions for personal reflection or discussion in small groups
- If you see a bigger picture than some others and have the ability to influence them towards taking positive next steps on their journey of faith, what’s stopping you from taking your next step to lead where you are right now?
- Is fear stopping you from obeying God’s call like it did for Saul?
- If you believe God when he tells you, you are a child of the living God, created to bring him glory and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit of God, how might you be involved in leading other people to believe the same things about themselves?
- If you’ve been an active member of ABC for some time now, what are you going to do to help newcomers settle in and become active members themselves?
- Could you lead a small group or lead people through the next steps process or lead a particular ministry or lead others by your example of humbly serving?
- What’s your next step?
Check out our NextSteps web page for more opportunities to respond.