People argue over whether leaders are born or developed. Clearly leadership can and does emerge from every group of people, of every background, from every level of academic training, etc. The “is this nature or nuture” argument will never be completely solved. But we can see certain characteristics that are a part of leadership development. One of these is a comfort level with a certain amount of personal risk taking.
When I was in 8th grade, I had just recently started in an American school rather than my previous experience of British schools. I did not know a thing about America or American politics. But we had a debate in the class to parallel the debate that was going on between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson as they battled for the Presidency. I wanted to be a part of our class debate, but neither side of the debate wanted this “Brit” who knew nothing about America to be on their side. Finally the teacher put me on the Goldwater team. I studied everything that I could and poured my heart into the preparation for the debate. And I blew away the “opposition!” That was the beginning of a life-long enjoyment of public speaking, and moving into high school politics which ended up in my being elected as Student Body President in my senior year.
Fast forward 25 years and I and my family have just emigrated to the United States, and we need health insurance, having come from the UK where it was all taken care of by the government. I receive a leaflet in the mail describing a Christian alternative to health insurance, an approach where Christians literally share each other’s medical bills in much the same way as the early Christians shared in each other’s needs. As an active Christian this idea sounded fantastic to me. I probably should have asked important questions like “do these people know what they are doing? Or Are there enough people in this program for it to be financially stable?” But I didn’t ask either. I just jumped in. And now, a further 25 years on I help lead an organization that is working with tens of thousands of people all across the United States to handle their medical bills in a Biblical fashion.
Sometimes you just take a risk, and in the willingness to do so you discover that you are becoming a person that others are willing to follow. Later this month I will be speaking to the National Leadership Conference of C-12, the nation’s largest gathering of Christian CEO’s. I will be encouraging other CEO’s to look at alternatives to health insurance models that are actually exempted under the Affordable Care Act. I will be challenging people to take risks in connection with what they believe and to act on their convictions. David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby was a leader before he started challenging the government’s assumption that Christians should not express their faith through the businesses that they run. But in taking his stand, he has grown in his leadership and continues to expand his influence and impact as a Christian business leader.
What risks are you taking? Why not let God develop those leadership gifts that lie inside you?