By Paul Gratton, Director of Montreat College Adult and Graduate Business Programs
Something I have found as I teach the topic of leadership as part of the Montreat College Masters in Management and Leadership (MSML) degree is that many students (and I think people, overall) struggle with their sense of self and identity as a leader. Part of this stems for our culture’s view of leaders and leadership. The leaders that first come to mind to most of us seem colossal and untouchable. Names that are typically brought up in class as examples of leaders include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy, and Oprah. These names have taken on a mythology of their own, and that mythology seems far out of reach of the everyday person. Thus, developing personal leadership can feel like an impossible mountain to climb for the students.
About halfway through the course I find that it is helpful to remind the students: “These leaders you are studying are human beings, just like you. By studying them, and learning about their fears, failures, and mistakes, you will better understand that they were not infallible. They played a certain role in the world at a particular time that was made for them. You are not Lincoln, or MLK, or Diana, or Mother Theresa, or Oprah…good! You are yourself, and you are developing into the leader that you are called to become.”
Rather than getting caught up in comparison, I encourage the students to recognize their unique calling as leaders. Not all of us are called to be presidents, CEOs, or media stars, but each of us has the opportunity to lead in significant ways in our own places. As I remind the students, “… we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good work, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
Through this scripture we move beyond comparison and toward personal confidence. You don’t have to compare your leadership to the leadership to others. Instead, you can grow into the unique servant leader God made you to be. After all, stepping into leadership is ultimately an act of faith, that despite our own shortcomings that we are created for a purpose beyond ourselves. No matter our circumstances, through faith we all have the ability to choose how we interact with the world around us for the betterment of others. Faith allows us to have hope, and it leads to work with others toward the vision of a better future.
How is your faith? In an age where the world seems to be spinning faster and faster, are you motivated by faith or do you feel disempowered by fear? Does the word “leadership” overwhelm you? Remember, you don’t need to be a global figure to make a difference in your family, your neighborhood, or workplace. You were created for good work, and you can lead right where you are. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
Are you interested in growing your leadership skills? Do you want increase your ability to do good?
Learn more about how the Montreat College Masters in Management and Leadership (MSML) degree can help you achieve your goals.