By Hannah Bell
Leadership – Visionary Legacy
Current pop-culture has mistaken leadership for status, titles, and publicity. Yet, many times these so-called famous portrayals are in reality beautified, empty shells that lack fortitude, discipline and character to empower others.
Moreover, many do not strive beyond their personal limitations. They settle for mediocrity and do not think outside the box or beyond personal capabilities. Branching out, thinking creatively, and implementing a dream may seem too hard and fear undoubtedly creeps inside the spark of a dream.
Nevertheless, a leader attracts people to a vision beyond themselves. As John Maxwell states in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, “Your leadership ability—for better of for worse—always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization” (Maxwell 2007, p. 5). The true essence of a leader propels men forward, empowering them to branch out beyond the leader. To leave followers stagnant and not propel them into the character qualities that will make them leaders, defeats the purpose.
In viewing history, one such example is George Washington. A man of meager beginnings, Washington comprehended a vision that proved bigger than himself: “Even in the earliest days of the Revolution Washington had a large national vision” (Wills 1994, p. 151). It was said of Washington during his eulogy, “The Presidential term expiring, his solicitude to exchange exaltation for humility. . . produced a further sacrifice of inclination to duty” (Lee 2011, p. 17). Washington established influence because he maintained a vision bigger than himself of which, when obtained, did not develop him into an egocentric tyrant. Instead, he understood when to release power’s status. This proves a challenge that requires character, “. . . as men able to establish power they could walk away from” (Willis 1994, p. 153).
God ultimately has a plan for our lives that extends beyond momentary inabilities. A leader realizes that he is called to leave a legacy and that “[i]t’s not the position that makes the leader; it’s the leader that makes the position” (Maxwell 2007, p. 17). A leader remains influential, not out of striving to remain so, but out of a reliance on God’s ability in him to do the impossible. In like manner, “[Washington’s] willingness to think of the long term grew as he learned to say yes to whatever God willed” (Olasky 2000, p. 7). As visionary leaders, let us run the race that goes after the big dreams that allow God to fulfill His plan through us and humbly help others along the way.
Leadership – The Essence of Servanthood
When we think about leaders throughout history, we examine those who have held influential positions and left a mark on society. These arenas of influence may have appeared as natural as the family to visual interaction in ministry, education, business, entertainment, and government.
Taking the concept a step further, many consider those functioning as servants who have left an advantageous impact through character qualities, as leaders who leave a legacy. The key aspect in this leadership portrayal is servanthood.
A person, functioning as a servant, remains the highest form of leadership. No matter what arena, one who looks to empower others sets the course for greatness. We see this portrayed in the biblical description when Jesus’ explained “. . . whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). A servant also has a keen understanding of the approach required to position others in an environment for success.
Lastly, history has shown us illustrations of what not to do as a leader. Such as, Napoleon, who failed to translate the principles obtained in war to skills that he could apply in civilian interaction (Wills 1994, p. 96). Instead of “. . . cop[ing] with those in a new situation” as a leader “[Napoleon] was no longer calling them to a shared goal, but to direct reverence for his person” (Wills 1994, p. 97). The servant leader must remain flexible, not giving up solid principles, but adapting his approach to new situations and remaining humble in the process.