How God Prepares Us For Life: Christian Leadership
What is Christian leadership? How do you know that God is calling you to leadership? This column is the first in a series that discusses the subject of Christian leadership.
Understanding Christian leadership begins with recognition of the fact that every person has a purpose in life. Every individual is unique and has a special place in God’s plan for the development of the world and the salvation of humankind.
Your calling, like that of everyone who recognises the role of God in their life, can be said to come in two related ways:
General Vocations and Specific Vocations
First, you are called to a vocation along with other people — a vocation such as teaching, nursing or religious life. You are called, along with others, to that “general” vocation or career.
But, secondly, you are also called in a special way: to serve God in a particular way within that vocation.
The challenge is first to know your general vocation, and then to discover your particular calling; what we may refer to as “a call within a calling”.
This is sometimes not straightforward because you may at one point feel strongly that you are called to a certain career, only to find out later that you are not really meant for that way of life.
How you discover that God is calling you to a particular way of life will be the subject of another column. Our focus now is on some of the provisions that God makes for you and the conditions he sets for you when he calls you to leadership.
First, you are born in a particular society at a particular point in history and of particular parents. This is what some scholars have described as “sovereign foundations”.
Your upbringing in that society at that particular point in the development of your country and of the world, provides the environment in which you will grow as a leader.
God Uses the Circumstances of your Life
God uses the circumstances of our lives to train us: thus, the good and bad experiences you go through; the people you come into contact with; the education and training you receive — all these and others combine to prepare you for leadership.
The second thing that God does to us is to give us talents. God will not call you to something that is completely beyond your ability.
Part of the litmus test you can use to confirm whether you are really called to what you currently believe is your vocation is to find out whether you have the tools or talents that will enable you to fulfil your role in that calling.
God also often tests those whom he has called: Abraham passed the test when he took his son to Moriah to sacrifice him; Jesus passed the test when he was tempted in the desert; he passed the test in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross.
The challenge for you and me is to pass the test, and not to fail like Adam and Eve who ate of the forbidden tree.
You Need to Discern God’s Call
Finally, God does not use us like robots — things that cannot think or make choices. He calls us and provides us with some natural gifts and talents, but he also wants us to play our part in our development as leaders.
First, he wants us to discover our calling. Second, he wants us to participate in our development — to develop the qualities, character and skills that make us capable and effective leaders.