Are you a leader? If you think of leadership only as a rare spiritual gift (Romans 12:6-8), you’ll likely answer, “No.” Certainly God calls some to a unique level of leadership in the church, and their special role deserves special honor (Ephesians 4:11, 12; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17). But what if leadership is broader than that? What if every follower of Christ is a leader?
Leadership guru John Maxwell is famous for saying that “Leadership is Influence: Nothing More, Nothing Less.”1 If you are influencing others, you are leading them. Your words and actions impact others. In the world you influence culture. At home you influence family. At work you influence fellow employees. At school you influence fellow students. And in the church you influence fellow believers. Everyone influences someone. In this sense, everyone is a leader.
The question is not whether you are a leader but what kind of leader you are. Are you intentional about how you influence others? Are you being equipped for leadership that has maximum influence for God’s kingdom? Are you leading non-believers into a saving relationship with Christ? Are you leading fellow believers to use their gifts in service to the mission and glory of God? Ultimately, are you modeling the Jesus way of loving God and people?
The universal call to leadership started long before Christ walked the earth, and it extends into eternity. At Creation, humans were commanded to take dominion over the earth. We were created — in God’s image — to rule. You were created to lead. While sin and death interrupted this holy vocation, God never changed His plan for His people to reign with Him through eternity.
In Christ we are restored to being truly human, co-regents of creation. As we discover new life in Christ, we rediscover, and begin to live out, our created purpose: reigning with Christ. This reign is not like the self-serving monarchies or petty politics so familiar to us, but the gracious, sacrificial rule of God aimed at human flourishing and loving perfection. Jesus calls all His followers to this kind of leadership — a nation of priests and rulers.2
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ repeated call to “Follow Me” is characterized by becoming “fishers of men” (4:18-22) and a radical self-sacrifice (16:24, 25; 19:21-26) that prioritizes Christ above everything (8:18-22). When we follow Jesus in this missional, servant-hearted, God-centered manner, we cannot help but influence those around us. As 18th century evangelist John Wesley often said, “Get on fire for God and men will come and watch you burn.”
Jesus was speaking to everyday people when He called them the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” He said that as we follow Him, the world will take notice and glorify God (5:13-16). Writing to Titus, Paul speaks of the same influence over unbelievers. The simple act of living a godly life in the home, workplace, and society has the power to keep God’s Word and the believer above reproach and make the gospel beautiful to a watching world (Titus 2:11-15). In Ephesians 5:1, 2, Paul calls believers to imitate God like beloved children, walking in love as Christ did. In the following verses he highlights the power of a godly life to influence an evil world, fellow believers, marriages, families, and workplaces. The church is a united body made up of people with various gifts and ministries (1 Corinthians 12). The health of the body depends on every part doing its part (Ephesians 4), highlighting the influence each of us has within the church. We’re called to be leaders in the world, the home, and the church.
Again, the question is not whether you are a leader. The question is, what kind of leader are you?
Christian leadership says, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Imitating Christ means humbling ourselves in order to lovingly serve others (Mark 10:41-45; John 13:12-16; Philippians 2:1-11). It means using our influence, however great or small, to shine the light of Christ into a dark world. Everyone who follows Christ is called to lead others to a growing knowledge of Christ.
Where is there help for this? Through Artios Christian College, which carries on the work of LifeSpring School of Ministry, Ministry Training Systems, Summit School of Theology, and Midwest Bible College. However, while we continue to provide customized training for those called to pastoral ministry, our focus has broadened. We exist to equip leaders for a Vibrant 21st Century Church. And every follower of Christ is a leader. Our calling is to make you a vibrant leader, full of God’s energy, enthusiasm, strength, and life.
There’s a sense of anticipation within the Artios Christian College family. We have a hope in Christ that allows us to see beyond physical reality to what is possible with and through Him. We’re confident not in ourselves but in the God we serve and His faithfulness in revealing Himself, His ways, and His wisdom to us. We are humbled by the realization that we can lead others only as He empowers us to follow Him. We look for opportunities to engage others in conversations about how we can effectively influence our families, churches, communities, and workplaces to more closely reflect God’s heart.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, there’s a place for you within the Artios Christian College family. Our courses are focused, flexible, and financially sustainable. They were created with you in mind. Our instructors are vibrant leaders devoted to discipleship. Our resources, available free at artiosmagazine.org, exist to equip you to become a vibrant leader.
So ask yourself, “Who will I influence today, and how will I influence them?” Following Jesus makes you a leader. Be a vibrant one.
- John C. Maxwell, “Leadership is Influence: Nothing More, Nothing Less,” christianitytoday.com (July 2007). Web accessed 11-10-16.
- For more on this, see especially Chapter 3, “Priests and Rulers,” in N. T. Wright’s After You Believe (New York: HarperCollins, 2010).