After returning from the Leadership Training Conference, I find myself really pondering some tough inner questions regarding leadership. Attendees were not only refreshed and encouraged but also challenged to grow and strengthen our character that we might become more effective leaders. Norm Wakefield is a powerful speaker, and in his two-part sessions on “Leadership Lessons Learned the Hard Way,” he challenged leaders with some difficult questions regarding how and why they lead.
We all begin leadership for various reasons. Some leaders start groups because they need fellowship, and some come into an existing group and see a need or a leader who is struggling with the load and offer their assistance. Other leaders may take a leadership position because they feel a sense of obligation to the group. A few are asked to lead. There are many reasons that people find themselves in leadership positions, and there are many reasons people stay in leadership positions. Often those reasons change through the years. Some may feel there is no one to replace them, or no one wants to replace them. Others stay in leadership because they feel needed and enjoy serving; these all seem to be noble and legitimate reasons to lead and continue leading, but are they only surface answers to the question why?
Norm’s questions were far more specific than just “why?” (I challenge you to order the audio if you missed the LTC), but I realized just asking that question required a heart search. I think many of us will find the answer is a little more complex than it first appears. Do we lead with a selfless desire to serve, or would a deep heart search reveal a need to be recognized or a desire for power or position? There is rarely one solid answer to the question why, and more often I think the real answer is a complex mix of self and service. But I think we should ask ourselves the question and truly search our hearts for the answer. Few things rarely require a deep heart search, but those deep searches pull from us vision and purpose. Are the answers important? Of course, but I think it is the asking that really changes us.
May God reveal answers as you ask the question, “Why do I lead?”