Recently at LifeCity Church, we began a series walking through 2 Timothy called The Leader in Me, where I’ve been walking through the leadership principals the Apostle Paul gives in his final farewell letter to Timothy. The point of this series has been simple: Leadership, in a word, is influence – and God has given all of us a degree of influence in this world that we should cultivate. One of the main points of his leadership dynamics is founded in 2Timothy 2:2, “The things you’ve heard and seen of me, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Through this and other passages, I introduced our church to the three levels of leadership…
- Leading self.
- Leading others.
- Leading leaders.
You must be able to lead yourself well, if you’re ever to be capable of leading others. Self-discipline, sacrifice, and the ability to follow all fall under this for me. Because you can’t lead, if you can’t follow.
The next step up is leading others, or leading a team. This is often coveted by short-sighted “leaders” who want to skip over level 1. I like to elevate people to this level who have demonstrated the ability to lead themselves, but are otherwise reluctant to be “over” someone else. Their humility and self-awareness often make them far better suited for leadership than they realize, and watching them grow in this capacity is inspiring.
The third level is leading leaders, more specifically, leading level 2 leaders. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:26, that the greatest among you must be “the servant of all”. Jesus ties greatness directly to the idea of servanthood. The greatest leader, therefore, should be striving to be the greatest servant. In God’s Kingdom where everything is backwards to our human perspective, this is the model of a growing leader.
Levels 2 and 3 are contingent on level 1. You can’t lead others somewhere you’re not going. If you’re undisciplined, unwilling to sacrifice, unwilling to follow others, then your leadership is ultimately based on yourself, not those whom you wish to lead.
I hope this is helpful as you consider your leadership growth.