Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Monday, July 25, 2011

Calling All Unequipped

What comes to mind when you think of a leader? Is it someone in a management position in corporate America, a pastor of a mega church, a commanding officer in the armed forces, or a politician in public office? Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch, but there are leaders in each of these scenarios. In my mind, these are people who drive a European import with a model name that looks like alphabet-number soup, live in a gated community in a McMansion, go about 4 people deep before access is gained (one of those might be a bodyguard), and when they speak, everyone stops to listen.  


Recently, the issue of leadership criteria became personal when Leland and I visited friends, John and Elizabeth Morgan, who we hadn’t seen in a couple of years, since they moved out of town for business reasons. We love this couple because they’re so easy to be with, so honest and transparent; spiritual family.

Over the course of the weekend, our conversation turned to small groups. We told our friends how our group had experienced some commitment issues among its members, and has basically fizzled out. Immediately, they both chimed in with, you should lead a new group! 

Us? My husband and I both laughed and agreed that we’re not leadership material.

Our friends smiled and said, well, that just proves that you’re probably the perfect ones to lead a group.

I have never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that I would be in the place of leading any group, other than in my job as mom to my little herd of 4 children.
We still weren’t sure what to think, but since Elizabeth had worked on staff in the small group ministry of our super-sized church, we had to stop and consider she might know what she’s talking about. What ensued was an eye-opening conversation about what John and Elizabeth considered to be the qualifications of a couple’s group leader.

We then proceeded to run through the reasons why we weren’t so sure:  

We’ve never done this before. 
We’ve made a lot of stupid choices in life. 
We’re not so sure we’re on a high enough spiritual plane. At one point on our paths, we've both walked away from organized religion and Leland was an agnostic for years before returning to the faith. I am someone who questions everything like a hard-core skeptic, refusing to believe everything I'm told, unlike the automaton I was; a product of a graceless church environment. 
We both struggle with prayer. 
We have both failed once at marriage.  


Most of us know the story of how God called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. We know Moses came up with more than one reason why he thought he wasn’t fit for the task:

Who am I? I’m nobody special.
What if the Israelites don’t believe you sent me?
What if the Egyptians don’t believe me or listen to me?
I’m a lousy speaker.

God gave him answers to all his questions, promising to do amazing things for him in the process, and all Moses could say was, Lord, please send someone else to do it.

Moses was simply a shepherd; nothing special. Slow to speak. Totally lacking any confidence in himself, and apparently, the God in the flaming foliage he was talking to. Helloooo!

Feeling a bit Moses-ish, we promised our friends we would prayerfully consider applying for small group leadership. During that process, I remembered back to last November when I wrote a mission-related blog post.  Here is an excerpt: I am humbled. I am sorry for thinking God cannot do whatever He desires to do, through me. There are no obstacles to the fulfillment of His purpose, other than our selves.

Fast forward a few weeks, and we completed the church’s group leader application process. To our surprise, we were scheduled for an interview with a small group staffer at church. It seems the boulder-strewn, twisted, detour-filled lives we have lived might just make us relatable, and therefore, great leadership material—along with the fact that we are simply willing to put ourselves in the position of being a channel for God to pour his power through, and into the lives of those that we do life with in our small group, beginning in September.

I let John know of our decision to jump into small group leadership, via Twitter, knowing he would share the news with Elizabeth. He tweeted back, God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. That made my heart soar.

My view of leadership has changed. True leaders are servants, not masters; channels of God’s power, not the power source.

What is your take on what makes someone leadership material?

p.s. Thanks, John and Elizabeth--we love you!


  1. Lynne,
    I see leadership in everyone... we're all capable, in some capacity, to lead - and the world needs more leaders (keyword, LEADERS not managers)
    Nice write up.

  2. Hi Darren,

    Yes, keyword, Leaders--very important difference from managers.

    Thanks for your comment!