Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Leader is Sure of His or Her Calling

Those who are unsure of their vocation cannot possibly be effective leaders. Nothing is more debilitating to leadership than self-doubt. People who have uncertainties about their giftedness never make good leaders, because at the most basic level they are uncertain about whether what they are doing is right. They will naturally be hindered by indecision, be hesitant, timid, and fainthearted in every choice they must make.

Paul never wavered in his confidence that he was called by God to be an apostle. Others questioned him all the time. After all, he was not one of the Twelve. He was a relative latecomer to the faith in Christ. He had, in fact, been a notorious persecutor of the church (Acts 9:13). Paul himself confessed that if his past life were the only consideration, he was “not worthy to be called an apostle” (I Cor. 15:9).

But the call of God on his life, in spite of his past, was clear (Acts 9:15; 13:2). The other apostles affirmed him without reservation (Galatians 2:7-9). Therefore, he considered himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8). Yet he also knew that he was “not inferior to the most eminent apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11).

This was not arrogance on his part; God had called him to such an office and Paul was confident of that calling.

Such confidence is a necessary strength in leadership – to be so secure in your giftedness, so emphatic about your calling that no trial, however severe, could ever make you question your life’s work. Effective leadership depends on that kind of resoluteness, courage, boldness, and determination.

People in leadership who indulge in self-doubt will always struggle because every time things get difficult, they question the validity of what they do. Should I be here? Should I go elsewhere? Should I get out completely? Unless you have absolute confidence that you’re called and gifted for what you are doing, every trial and every hardship will threaten to deter you from your work.

I’ve never met an effective leader who wasn’t competitive. Real leaders want to win. Or, rather they expect to win – to achieve an objective. That passion to attain the prize is what Paul himself described in Philippians 3:14, (and notice that it stemmed from his calling): “I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He believed in the gifts God had given him. He trusted the power of God in his life. He knew that God had set him apart for leadership. So he could set his eyes firmly on the prize.

Who is fit for leadership? Is it the person whose only credentials are written on a piece of paper? Or is it the one who has a reputation for integrity, whose credentials are the lives of people who he or she has influenced, and the one who has so much bold confidence in their own calling that he doesn’t waiver, no matter how severe the opposition?

To ask the question is to answer it.

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