During my years of ministry, I have attended several of John Maxwell’s seminars and I have read several of his books. In the first seminar I attended, he gave a definition of leadership that has stuck with me through the years. He reduced his definition for leadership to one word, influence. Over the years I have read other books, but I haven’t found a better definition. It is concise, simple and at the same time profound. Real leaders do more than hold a title or occupy a position. They influence their world and bring about change in the lives of those they lead. You can see this principle active in homes, businesses, sports, politics, churches, entertainment and all other parts of society.
If leadership is influence, it is critical that we recognize it can be negative or positive. A true leader will lead. The question is, “Where will he/she lead?” Our “Founding Fathers” influenced those they led and created a nation that is in my opinion the greatest nation in the world. On the other hand, Adolph Hitler influenced a nation and led it down a path that caused immeasurable suffering for the world.
Because of its awesome power to change things for good or evil, leadership carries with it a tremendous responsibility that can’t be cast aside. Parents, pastors, religious leaders, famous athletes, politicians, rock stars, movie stars and any others who have some one looking to them for direction can not escape this responsibility.
The higher the profile in society the greater the responsibility the leader has. Richard C. Halverson, former Chaplain to the US Senate, wrote, “Whether a man likes it or not--if he’s in a place of leadership--he will be influencing others. He has no right just to consider himself! He must think in terms of his influence. This is a part of the price of leadership! Not just the man himself--but what happens to those who follow in his footsteps--is the serious responsibility of the leader--the big man! This is inescapable! ‘To whom much is given--much shall surely be required!’—Jesus.”
The responsibility of a leader is a fact. How a leader responds will be the basis upon which he/she will be judged. Ultimately, each leader will be judged by the only perfect leader the world has known. I speak of course of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.