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What makes a leader great? Why does so much seem to be dependent on leadership?

Often, when an organization is struggling, the fault is blamed on poor leadership. The opposite is also true: the success of an organization is normally attributed to great leadership. But how accurate is this? Is it that simple to just look at the leader to measure or predict success? A simple way to define leadership is influence. In our homes, churches, or local communities, we all play an influential role. In one way or another, we are all leaders.

I know what you might be thinking… I don’t think I am a leader, let alone a great one. If we think great leadership looks like William Wallace from the movie Braveheart, face painted blue rallying the troops for battle, it could be tough to measure up. The good news is, it’s bigger than us. Great leadership is less about you and more about the influence you have on those around you.

One of the things we have learned while living through the COVID-19 pandemic, is that none of us are promised tomorrow. The plans we make can quickly change with the result of a test or the health of a loved one. If we think that being a great leader means always being there, having the answers, or always knowing what’s best next, what happens when we are removed? What is most important is the influence we have while we have the opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a reality to the influence of a great leader. That is why a new head coach takes a team with a losing record onto winning a championship. The point, however, is that leader might not always be around, so it is important to invest in others.

The foundation of ITEC was built on the principle of investment in others. The goal from the beginning was to ask: what would it look like for us to be removed? We need to allow those on the front lines to carry on the work without the support of outsiders and  to invest in Christ followers who then continue the work.

Just over 9 years ago, the founder and leader of ITEC, Steve Saint, was suddenly removed from our team with an injury. (If you are not familiar with his journey you can watch the Next Chapter series.) By the grace of God, the mission of ITEC has continued. The foundation that was laid in the mission of ITEC has set the course and influence for the future of the team.

There is no shortage of blogs, speakers, and resources regarding great leadership. However, one Book holds the principles from the greatest leader of all, Jesus Christ. He set the example of investing into twelve men who went on to have an impact on the rest of the world. His influence continues to today. It might have seemed like a better choice for Him to have continued the earthly work He was doing. There was not a better speaker, influencer, or miracle performer to walk this earth. Of course, He had all the answers and knew the next best thing to do. But the influence Jesus had on those around Him, as the perfect example of a leader, is continuing to have an impact to this day.

None of us are promised tomorrow. I challenge you to ponder how you might invest in others around you rather than thinking that everything depends on you. It’s bigger than you or me. Whether in your local context, or in opportunities to invest in mission work on a foreign field, invest in others in such a way that the work can continue without you.