Leading Looks Like Watching

It was a sunny Sunday morning in June of 2015 when my shadow finally graced the steps of a little white chapel.

We’d heard it said, “people there look like you”. Unsure of what that meant, broken, hurting, and ashamed of the darkness that we’d called home for far too long, my husband and I braved our insecurities and walked into a building that would soon become synonymous with grace.  

When service concluded, and we were back in our car, I turned to my husband and asked, “So, what did you think?” As the tears ran down his face, I knew God had us exactly where He wanted us.

Since that Sunday, we’ve sat under the leadership and teachings of some of the greatest leaders of our generation. I vividly recall leaving that white chapel on our first Sunday and saying, “I think they’re doing church right. Like, the way Jesus intended for it to look and feel. I can’t put my finger on it, but we’re going to learn so much. This is absolutely where He wants us.” Looking back, I believe what I was sensing that day was an outpouring of grace.

After college, I landed my first corporate gig with a national non-profit organization that would quickly set the tone for my career in writing and curriculum development. After a few years in the nonprofit sector, I went on to work for an up-and-coming fashion jewelry start-up out of NYC. Both arenas focused heavily on quantity: number of members, donors, sales, KPIs and VC investments. My worldview of leadership quickly became focused on quantity and what I could do to aid in the growth of the organization – what I could offer, or do for someone, or be in order to maintain my perceived value and worth. 

No human can master leadership (only Jesus did that!) but if you were to ask me what leadership looks like…. I believe leadership looks a lot like watching others lead. It’s a true honor to have leadership that continually points me to the cross and always exhibits healthy leadership habits. I’ve seen leadership exhibited from the platform, to the parking lot; from words of praise to gentle, loving correction. The operative word here is “seen”. So, what would leadership look like if you could see it displayed?

Leadership could look a lot like:

1. Serving the Hurting

I was always under the mindset that I should be served, but I have learned that no matter what God has called you to, whether it’s to start a business, write a book, raise a family, teach the next generation, or rescue women from sex trafficking, it’s not about other people serving me or you. It’s about the people on the other side of our actions. It’s about their souls and their eternity. If we allow our desire to be served to be more important than our Jesus, we’re idolizing ourselves over our Savior.

Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.  Mark 10:45 MSG

How to Apply? Our Pastors have taught us to ask ourselves “Why.” Why am I serving? Why am I showing up early? Why am I staying late? Why am I saying yes to another project? Why am I leading this connect group? I’d encourage you to give this a try!

2. Walking in Humility

The savior of the world came and died on a cross. Not for Himself,  but for all of us! Jesus Christ’s life wasn’t even FOR Him; Therefore, our lives aren’t going to be about us. We can’t simply say,More of you, Lord, and less of me.” We must become more like Him, by laying our life down for Him—by laying down our PRIDE, saying, “I give you all of me. I give all my accolades, all my success, all my titles, to You daily.”

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV

How to Apply? One of my mentors once told me that during prayer they physically remove an imaginary crown from their head and place it at the feet of Jesus. The first handful of times I tried this, I felt a bit silly. But, it’s a beautiful way to honor our Savior and to remind ourselves to continually walk in humility and give it all to Christ.

3. Fighting for Surrender

Serving in a life-giving church with such surrendered leaders is powerfully eye-opening and it’s forced me to grow in ways that I didn’t acknowledge needing to grow in the past. I’ve had the honor of watching others leader from a position of Surrender. Something I’m not sure I’d ever witnessed. It’s a true honor to see what it looks like to continually fight for surrender. Surrender in all areas of life whether that’s in the marketplace, ministry, or relationships. Surrender in speech, finances, fears, aspirations, successes and insecurities. Constantly fighting to be confirmed to the character of Christ.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 2 Timothy 6:12 NIV

How to Apply? Fighting for surrender won’t be comfortable. Start today by doing something you’re uncomfortable with. This might be tithing for the first time, apologizing for a wrong done in the past or even giving your life over to Jesus and making Him Lord of your life.

Watch those who are exhibiting Christ-like leadership and follow their lead. Turn your eyes to Jesus and pour over His words, actions and thoughts. Pray that He would teach you what it looks like lead like Jesus.

Kaitlyn Stephens

Kaitlyn was born and raised in the Midwest. At age 18 she moved to Dallas, Texas to attend college. One month before her college graduation she met her now husband, Joshua Stephens. Kaitlyn has always loved writing and knew that God would do something unique with her passion for the written word. In 2016, she published her first devotional, “THINK Like Jesus: A Five-Week Devotional for Lady Bosses”. Kaitlyn is passionate about loving people toward Jesus, and seeing the local church change the world. You can connect with Kaitlyn on her website or Instagram! 

Join the discussion

Chessa May 20, 2017 at 8:18am

Great read. My favorite phrase was, 'Fighting for surrender'. Such a great visual of submitting to Christ in everything. Thank you!

Jane May 10, 2017 at 1:00am

I like the idea of taking off the imaginary crown and laying it at the cross - it is a great tip for giving God the glory for everything and staying humble. Thank you x

Liz Bell May 3, 2017 at 7:21am

Love, love this article! This is something I have learned that real leaders are real servants just like Jesus was! Thank you!

Krystle April 30, 2017 at 11:41am

Thank you Kaitlyn for this inspiring and encouraging article. The first tip about serving spoke right to me; especially about raising a family being a calling. It was a subtle remark but a truth I needed. We live in self centered world and it's so easy to not think about serving. Thanks for the reminding us what leading truly is. God bless you and your family.