Yesterday started with a perfect MacIntosh apple morning - crisp, and sweet. A bite of cold was in the air and a thick coating of frost on my windshield. I cleared a porthole and rolled slowly down the laneway past the row of old maples clothed in autumn's golden glory, turned onto the main road, and revved into my day. My mission for this last work day of the week was a simple one - pick up Belinda (my direct supervisor as well as being a dear friend and blog-mate) and deliver us to Orillia in one piece. Once there, we would have the privilege of sitting in on a one-day, power packed leadership training simulcast called "Lead Like Jesus", along with many of our co-workers and others in the Christian community.
It was a day of challenge and inspiration, with a solid dose of good, plain, fun mixed in. We left the gathering a bit early so Belinda would have time to get home, tie up a few loose ends (like 'packing' for instance!) before heading off to the airport for two weeks in England with her Mum and brother.
We listened to one person after another of proven influence as they expounded on the principles of "Leading Like Jesus". Jesus was clearly the most influential leader of all time. The day was prefaced by these words: If you ever attempt to influence the thinking, behaviour, or development of someone in your family, home, church or your community, then you are "a leader".
Leaderhip, Jesus-style, is all about "serving others" - the laying down of ego and personal agenda in order to bring out the best in those who occupy your sphere of infuence. Leadership has little to do with position and everything to do with attitude, so whether or not one has the "office" of a leader does not determine how much influence they will have. I remember learning that I could lead worship, for instance, from the back row - that my response to God in any given situation -can be an example, an inspiration and a challenge to the attitudes of those all around me and there can be a ripple effect of hearts - hearts that can be opened a little more toward God's working in them - or a little more closed - depending upon what I do with the that mantle of influence he gives.
It's not so much in the big decisions that effective leadership is forged. Whether or not we have an official position of authority, our everyday, ordinary actions are being observed by everyone whose lives are touched by ours. How we handle those situations which confront us in the everyday, in the "ordinary", is what brings out the leader in us, strengthens our authority, and determines our level of influence. It's how our "leadership muscle" is developed and enables us to be used effectively to prepare oursleves and others for when the crisis hits - and it will inevitably hit. That takes leaning into Jesus, developing habits that foster intimacy and relationship with him. The only way to do it is to be learning from him...
"Take my yoke upon you and learn of me... for I am meek and humble of heart... and you will find rest for your souls."
We were reminded of the five habits of Jesus the Leader which he exampled for us during his time on earth and which we are wise to emulate:
3. Knowing the Scriptures
4. Working within a small group (12 disciples)
5. Believing in and relying on the unconditional love of the Father
Psalm 90:12. Teach us to number our days aright, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.
A key principle for me was this: Scripture defines "the Kingdom of God" as "righteousness, peace, and joy". If we are rightly relating to Father-God - under his authority and influence - then we will be experiencing those three things in any given moment. If we are not experiencing righteousness, peace and joy, then we are disconnected from God and need to get re-connected right quick! Our ability to positively influence others depends on it.
Lord help me today - this day and every day - to come under your Lordship in all that I think, do, and say. Develop in me the understanding that every small and "ordinary" decision counts for eternity - not just for myself, but for the people who are watching my life and who are influenced by my decisions to follow you or go their own way. Let the influence you have given me be such that it inspires and encourages others to lean into your loving leadership and not away from it. In Jesus precious name, may I be his follower in every way... Amen. (And God bless Belinda in England!)