Leading Isn't a Four-Letter Word

For years I treated “leading” like a four-letter word. I described what I did only in safer terms like “helping,” “serving” or maybe “facilitating.” If I accidentally used the word I’d blush and quickly follow it with an apology (as if I’d cussed like a sailor) or a disclaimer (“I don’t mean I’m a real leader”).

But slowly, gently, insistently God began revealing to me that leading is something everyone is called to do. When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples” he was talking to all of us. And I’ve come to believe that’s what leading really means: it’s simply living in a way that helps others follow Jesus.

So why is it so hard for us to say we’re “leaders”? I think a lot of our struggle comes from having a one-size-fits-all image of leadership. Then we say, “Leaders are loud and I’m quiet.” Or “Leaders are fearless and I don’t always feel courageous.” Maybe “Leaders have been given a formal, fancy role and I’m just a…(student, mom, volunteer).”

But the reality is we serve a creative God and there are as many kinds of leaders as there are opportunities for leading. Yes, some people are corporate leaders who have the corner office. Some are comfortable on a stage with a microphone in their hands. Some are networkers who seem to make a thousand friends in five minutes. But some are thought leaders who influence through ideas birthed in silence and solitude. Some are relational leaders who move others simply because of the depth of their caring. Some are practical leaders who work in orderly, ordinary ways that may go unnoticed but actually make everything else possible.

We don’t need to be like anyone else in order to lead; we only need to be like Jesus. He has a specific assignment for each of us. And we are designed to complete it. If this still sounds a bit scandalous ask yourself, “In the past week, when did I simply help someone take another step?” Maybe you offered just the words a friend needed to get through a hard day. Perhaps you guided your kiddo through a tough homework assignment. Your insight might have played an important role in a project being completed at work. I would challenge you that in all those moments you were a leader.

Oops, did I say “leader”? What I really meant to say was…wait, that really is what I meant to say. The time has come for us to be brave enough to own that word. We may do so with our knees knocking in our cute shoes. We may feel like someone is going to find out we’re a fraud at any moment. We may wish we could hightail it back to our comfort zone.

But we will stay. We will stand tall. We will dare to say it. Because we are women.

Because we are daughters of the King. Because we are leaders.


Holley Gerth

Holley Gerth is a Bestselling author of You're Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect, life coach and counselor. You can connect with her on her website.

Join the discussion

Debbie M. December 30, 2015 at 2:31am

I can definitely understand where Holly is coming from. For YEARS I had a problem identifying myself a leader, or fully stepping into that role, even though God has used many people in my life to speak that over me and pull it out of me. I too had the "a leader is bold/fearless/outgoing/" image in my head, which didn't fit my personality or what I was comfortable with.

I believe the issue also lies within our heart, resting in knowing our true identity. When God calls us to something, He equips us through the power of His spirit. So who am I to question Him? He's been showing me more and more the ways that I lead in my every day life. "... the reality is we serve a creative God and there are as many kinds of leaders as there are opportunities for leading." LOVE. So true!

international autism ministry November 18, 2015 at 1:53pm

That was a powerful article. We can be leaders and that was part of God's plan even though we didn't hear it often enough in our varied pasts.