If you’ve ever felt unqualified, ill-equipped, or way in over your head as a leader, then welcome to the club. Sometimes we’re thrown into the leadership ring of fire and not quite sure how we got into it, or how we’ll make it out alive. Whether you feel like the most confident leader, or identify as a more reluctant one, there will always be times where you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. The good news is, we can turn our reluctance into confidence when we understand how God grows leaders and how He can use us exactly where we are, as we are.
To get started, here are a few signs that may indicate you’re a reluctant leader:
1. You’re not quite sure what makes you qualified to lead.
Even though you got promoted over your colleagues, or asked to organize the women’s Bible Study, you’re still not quite sure what leadership qualities you bring to the table. Part of your reluctance could be from comparing yourself to better communicators, or really creative thinkers. Stop yourself from those thoughts, and instead wonder what qualities you have to be a great leader. What positive feedback do you consistently get about your work and your character? What roles do you naturally fall into when you’re working on a team? If you could be known for one thing, what would be it? Creating this self-awareness is key to your leadership development. Owning what makes you different is important to your confidence. If you’re not sure, reach out to trusted mentors or peers and ask for their feedback. The beauty of these relationships is to help you see and encourage you in the strengths that God has naturally given you.
2. You feel like you’re way in over your head.
Once you’ve figured out your strengths, it’s time to understand your weaknesses. If you feel like you’re way in over your head, remember that no one is born knowing how to lead. In fact, apart of leadership is stepping out into the unknown and figuring out how to deal with things you’ve never experienced before. Leadership is a learning process. The sense of overwhelm could be from the need to develop a skill for more competence, too much responsibility and not enough time, or a lack of clarity of vision and direction for your next steps. If that’s the case, discern what you need to go to the next level. You could invest in professional development or training, delegate tasks to the right people, or take some time to connect to your values and create a plan for execution. It’s important to adopt a growth mindset, give yourself grace as you learn new things, and recognize your progress as you pursue what’s next.
3. Your insecurity in your abilities outweighs your security in God's.
In 1 Samuel 16: 7, the Bible says "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." What’s your motivation to lead? Is it to advance your own agenda or to serve people well and bring the glory back to God? When we focus on knowing God and making Him known, our skills (or lack thereof) become secondary to our mission. Cultivating an intimate relationship with God as the ultimate leader of your life is pivotal to creating a greater sense of security in the One who gives you those leadership gifts and opportunities. When we understand our responsibility as a steward of those resources, we can become more confident in knowing that God equips us for the challenge.
If you’re a reluctant leader, then begin to understand the value of your current situation as a springboard for future ones. What you learn now will better prepare you for future roles and responsibilities. You can make the most of your situation by checking your mindset, motivation, and phase of development to focus on your strengths, weaknesses, and mission. No matter where you are, you can turn your reluctance into confidence as a true leader, knowing the God will lead and prepare you best to pursue what’s next.