Becoming a Leader When No One Lets You Lead

Today and Thursday I’m going to be posting on the subject of leadership, specifically with younger leaders in mind. I find that younger leaders often feel passed over, discounted, and disrespected. Because of this many younger leaders never come to realize that they are leaders and their potential to influence our world for Christ is severely diminished.

Each of you has been here at some point: You sense that you have the potential to do something great, but no one else sees that potential in you. Having never gotten the opportunity to exert this potential, it remains untapped and you remain extremely frustrated.

When I was 22, fresh out of college and looking to get my start in church ministry, leadership opportunities were few and far between. People didn’t know me or trust me. At times I developed an angst toward the church sensing I had earned something because of my “potential.”

What I lost sight of is that you can still develop into a leader even when no one lets you lead.

Change Your Mindset

You need to change your mindset so you stop blaming others. It’s as simple as this: Leadership is earned not given. (tweet this?)

This is where so many desiring to be leaders miss the mark. This is what I failed to see at the ripe, young age of 22. Leadership is developing a trust and an influence that no title or position can bring.

Stop waiting for the senior leader of your church or organization to bless you with various opportunities and start earning the trust of those around you.

Find an Outlet

For me, this became blogging. I had all these thoughts and ideas but no where to place them. So I started writing and putting my writing out there. Now today hundreds of people read this ramblings everyday. One blog even listed this space as one of the top 200 Christian ministry blogs. All because I wanted to find an outlet.

Finding an outlet and pouring into it allows you to work out some of these desires to influence without waiting for others to plant you into those opportunities. Many times the outlet will become your primary space of leadership and influence.

Stop waiting for others to see your potential and live into it now.

Be a Better Follower

I think the best leaders are also the best followers. They’ve learned what great leadership looks like because they’ve learned to be great followers.

It’s important to enjoy watching and learning from a leader because a time is coming when you’ll have to be one all the time.

Following well teaches you that leadership is an honored place not to be taken lightly. Following well also teaches you that leadership is a struggle.

Ask Why Questions

In my experience the best leaders always have incredibly in depth answers to my why questions. Questions like, “why do you do this?” or “what made you stop doing that?” tend to provide the kind of perspective that is helpful for unseasoned leaders looking to learn.

It’s quite easy to ask what questions of leaders: “what are you doing today?” or “what can I do today?” But why questions get at the heart of leadership.

Learning to develop your own why will lead to a sustainable and healthy level of influence.

What recommendations would give you to those looking for leadership opportunities?