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  • Writer's pictureJohn Whitehead

Learning to Lead

If your life was anything like mine growing up, “Learning to lead” was the farthest thing from your mind. In fact, the thought of being a leader might have been limited to playing on a sports team or being with some friends who might listen to you at times.

I would submit, even in those situations, you were actually “learning to lead”.

The lessons may have been subtle, but those lessons were shaping your view of how and what it means to lead. On the field or court, you learned to lead by example, or you followed the example of someone playing the same position as you played to the best of your ability to help your team win.

In relationships with friends, you were “learning to lead” by dealing with different people and personalities by finding ways to cooperate when you had times of difficulty or strife.

These lessons were shaping us into the people we would become.

Life’s lessons continued as we left home, went to college, the military or to work where we would continue to learn how to lead ourselves through times of uncertainty with new situations and people.

The common denominator in every situation is the opportunity to learn. This is one of the beauties of life as we work through the struggles and challenges of relationships and living.

I believe we are the sum of our experiences. Good, bad, and indifferent; the lessons we take away from each can help us to become the leader we have been created to be.

Here is where many fall short. Because they neglect to see and believe they are leaders. There are many reasons for this. Insecurity, low self-esteem and past hurts and pains contribute to this mindset. The only way to overcome these things is to see yourself as a person who has influence.

You see, leadership is influence and we all have a level of influence in our lives. Because, we all have a sphere of influence.

When we realize, acknowledge, and accept this, we can begin to see we are leaders. Next, we must ask ourselves what kind of leader am I? And am I a leader someone would want to follow, or would I be willing to follow someone who leads like me?

An honest assessment here will point to how we see ourselves. Once we understand why we are the way we are, we can begin to look for ways to use our influence in positive ways for the betterment of others.

This is what “Learning to lead” is all about.

Here is where we become all we have been called to be. It starts with looking for an example to learn from.

Choosing wisely who to learn from is crucial.

I do so by watching others, asking questions, sharing my thoughts, and feelings on situations and circumstances in life. My goal in these relationships is to learn from these people, not to follow them

There is a difference and I believe it is profound.

You see, people are flawed and though we can learn from them. We should not follow them. This does not mean we should not follow the direction of our bosses and people positioned over us in life as we perform our jobs and tasks.

It means we should learn from these people. But we should only follow someone who is without flaw and our choices are limited. “Learning to lead”, requires us to find someone we can follow and emulate in every aspect of our lives.

For me, that someone is Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth. His is an example without flaw as He lived and modeled a life of purpose and sacrifice for the betterment of others. He is a model that has grown in its influence over two thousand years. He is the “Servant Leader” we should all aspire to be.

This leads me to my final point. Learn from people but “learn to lead”, by following Jesus!!

Matthew 16:24, "Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

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