'THE UNLIKELY LEADER' Kris Vallotton
Sometimes you meet a natural born leader — one that leads the pack, takes the reins, and makes everyone feel secure and safe. Then sometimes we see the unlikely hero rise to the scene, the one that is quiet, sits in the back, and comes from a broken home. Maybe you have questioned your own ability to lead or wondered if you have what it takes. I would propose everyone is a leader; whether you are leading yourself, another person, a family, or a country. The Bible is filled with unlikely leaders; consider the life of Moses, a fugitive at birth who became the greatest lawgiver in history. Or the life of David, once an insignificant shepherd boy wandering in the field who became one of history’s most famous kings. The list is endless of people stepping into a throne that are not “fit for the crown.” There is a leader deep within you with a distinct blueprint needed for the world around you to succeed and it may not look like “sitting on a throne in a fancy red robe” but, the truth is you are already sitting in heavenly places, with access to the greatest Leader of them all. I did not always “feel” like a leader and the path I was on did not look like it would ever lead to one of significance and esteem. The home I grew up in was unstable, the foundation was broken by the loss of my father, and the beams were shattered by the abuse of my stepfathers. If the picture is not already clear, my life was not one that should have naturally led to owning multiple businesses, or leading a global movement. Rather, I was a poor young man looking for purpose and someone to show me the way. But, even in the midst of my mess I look back on the course of my life and I see the hand of God molding and shaping the leader in me.
TRANSFORMING THE WORLD WITHIN YOU
I want to pull back the curtain and share a few insights on my journey in leadership; not just 5 tips to great leadership, but real life moments, accomplishments, and encounters that I hope inspire the leader in you and show you that you can do it too. The life you are living is filled with significance and purpose, and will have generational impact. (In this week’s video blog I answer questions and share more insight into my journey in leadership.) As I already mentioned, my childhood was extremely traumatic. This was my reality until everything in my life drastically changed. At the age of 18 I was living a life that was built around promoting myself, in pain from my past, and serving my own flesh. But, then suddenly I met the Lord and no longer was I living a life that would lead to death, instead I was learning to lead a life that reflected and responded to the glory of God. One of my greatest keys to leadership has been this very moment in my life. Serving the Lord of Lords will teach you how to serve and love His children. Leadership is so much more than a title; in the Kingdom, leadership equals servanthood. You must learn to serve well if you want to be a great leader. What does it look like to be a servant leader? It looks like Jesus; stopping for the one, loving your enemies, and being deeply connected to the heart of God.
The truth is, the world is filled with leaders that are eager to lead a movement of people and obtain a status, but do not know how to lead themselves. I would argue to this day one of my greatest leadership responsibilities is leading my life and my family before I lead anyone else. No, this may not lead to a recognized title in the world’s eyes, but neither did the life of Jesus. They could not believe the illegitimate son that associated with the unclean could be the Savior. What I am getting at is often leadership looks far different from what the world has made it out to be. It is important that we do not miss our first line of responsibility; our family. If you do not lead and steward your own life and family how are you to be entrusted with much? It is vital that we become aware of how we are stewarding and leading our own life, heart, and the family that God has given us. Now, let me be clear – I did not just give my life to God and immediately become a servant leader and know how to lead my family let alone a global movement; there were still pieces of my own selfish desires, impatience, and arrogance that got in the way. But, I was surrounded by people and mentors that loved me when I was still in my mess. They mined for the gold in me and pulled it to the surface; they did not settle for the dirt and grime they fought to see it washed away. These are the kinds of people everyone needs in their life — the ones that do not settle for anything less than the best they see in us; the iron that sharpens iron. To this day, I surround myself with friends that have different strengths than me and are not afraid to call out the imperfect places in me. These are the kinds of friendships that will produce the leader that lives inside of each one of us.
A DEGREE IN LEADERSHIP
Beyond any position or title in a leadership book, self-help manual, or degree in leadership, if you do not have connection with God you have nothing. If we are going to have anything to offer as a leader; connection with the Heavenly Father matters. Now let me be clear, connection with God is more than mystical moments and angelic visitations; it is the million small moments throughout our life. You may not have a mountain top experience everyday, but if you don’t purpose to spend time with God you definitely won’t. I encourage you to open your Bible in the morning or at night and read a chapter or two. This has been a life line in my life and I believe it is the steam to the engine of leadership. The Word of God is alive — no matter how many times you have read the chapter or heard the scripture there is always more to receive. When you are on the rocky boat of leadership and you don’t know which way is north, connection with God will be your saving source. The reality of being a perfect leader is a hard scale to try to measure up to. You may not always know the right answer or be the head leader in the room, but when God is your lifeline you will have an endless source of heavenly insight and wisdom. The truth is, God strategically places His people and He equips the called, but I encourage you to lean back into His wisdom and strength and do not try to do it all on your own. I want to encourage you today, if the waves of life or leadership have knocked you down there is still hope for today. The Lord is filled with endless solutions and possibilities. I pray that the despair of failure is filled with fresh hope from God and that perseverance becomes your strength. Not every attempt we make will succeed, but failure is our friend in disguise if we allow it to fuel our perseverance and faith to see the Lord move in our lives.