Leadership: Toe in, Toe Out


A hop, skip and a jump it was not. It was more like: Put one toe in cold water, retract, let the shock wear off. Put two toes in cold water, retract, let the shock wear off. You get the picture. Venturing out, testing, pull back, try a different toe.

Leadership was that scary monster under the bed for me. Thinking about leading people, telling others what to do, and being responsible for an outcome all would wake me up at night in a sweat. I didn’t even have to look under the bed.

So how could a guy like me accept leadership?

I once overheard a conversation in a coffee shop (I do that a lot so watch out). This person said, “You can’t change the wind but you can change your sail.” No, I can’t change my personality but I can change my definition of leadership.

Really I did not even have to change the definition of leadership. I only had to exchange the definition of leadership. Exchange the dictionaries’ definition of leadership with the Biblical definition. I just needed to trade in our culture’s definition with Jesus’ definition.

From reading a book called Invitation to a Journey by Robert Mulholland (that is not Dutch name), I learned that the journey to leadership starts with spiritual formation. This is the first step. “Spiritual formation is the process of a person being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others,” explains Robert Mulholland.

After years of searching for significance, I finally decided to work on my relationship with God (well, God gave me a push too). This was the start of my spiritual formation and, looking back, it was the start of my journey into a Bible defined, Jesus modeled leadership.

My journey led me to investigate the LDN program, which stands for Leadership Development Network. I was drawn to the curriculum (found at bcldn.ca) but you guessed it, the word leadership scared me off. It took three toes (years) for me to crank up my courage to join the LDN program.

In our orientation meeting, where I was one of five rookies, I learned this about leadership:

  • I can be an influence anywhere I am, but not where I am not.
  • We are all in a position to lead somewhere, work, home, anywhere there are people.       
  • Leaders are born and made. And Jesus can make a leader out of anyone.
  • We all have a gift to share with our community.

This last one is what I would like to do. I have been encouraged to share my thoughts with you, God’s community, in writing. In sharing with you what I am learning I hope we can be mutually encouraged in our spiritual formation, our process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.

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