Every leader is less gifted than someone, but what if you see yourself as somewhere in the middle of the pack?
Do you feel destined to remain there? That can feel internally demotivating. You probably have dreams and desires to lead better, larger, and have a greater impact.
In one sense, you can lead “above” your gifting.
What does that mean?
You can’t lead outside your gifts and talents, nor should you attempt to get out in front of God, but you can break out of the middle of the pack and elevate the gifts you do have so that the end result is leading with greater capacity than you possess on your own.
Let me say it a different way — from my personal experience.
God can take an ordinary leader and do extraordinary things through them.
As long as your motivation is for the good of others, a desire to lead larger is not spiritual greed; it is spiritual stewardship. It is good to maximize all that God has given you; that’s part of how the body of Christ works together.
Humility is a needed and Godly trait, but never use it to excuse not reaching your potential. It’s OK to ask God for a greater Kingdom impact.
Remember, God is not obligated to enlarge the scope of your leadership, but you need to do your part to be ready, then God can add what only He can do.
Leadership can be tough at times, very tough. It’s easy to become discouraged, and this past year has made it even more challenging. But God is with you; he has equipped you and given you the opportunity to lead. That alone is a huge gift.
So, what can you do?
7 Ways to maximize your leadership gifting:
1) Never underestimate your calling.
There are difficult times in ministry when it seems like your calling is all you have, and that is enough. It’s that powerful.
Think of it this way, God spoke to you and personally invited you into a unique calling to lead in His Church. That is a mind-blowing divine partnership that carries with it the power of God.
The truth is, we are, but jars of clay, common and fragile earthen clay, and God provides the power.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”2 Corinthians 4:7
You have the backing of heaven itself!
2) Don’t be too hard on yourself.
If you are like many leaders and me, you may be your own toughest critic.
Striving for growth and a desire to improve is good, but not if you are too hard on yourself and end up self-defeated.
A healthy balance of honesty and self-awareness plus the ability to shake off failures and learn from your mistakes is needed for a healthy approach to growth.
It’s often best to test your thoughts with a trusted leader to ensure you have an accurate perspective; we’ll hit that more under point #7.
3) Remain willing to work harder and do what others won’t do.
Your willingness to work hard and do what others won’t do is often the great separator of good to great.
This in no way suggests that you work so much that you hurt your health, family life, or overall well-being. But there is nearly always room to work both smarter and harder.
Climbing above the middle of the pack does not come without a price tag. This is where you discover how much you want it.
Calling, plus passion, and good old-fashioned – put in the hours’ hard work, will take you a long way.
What tough assignments do others seem to avoid? Do them! There is nothing too big and nothing beneath you. Do the hard work.
4) Cultivate your security to surround yourself with people more gifted than you are.
I love the way God designed the body of Christ. We encourage and lift each other to higher ground by working together.
You have gifts and strengths that others don’t have, and they have abilities you need as well. Together you are lifted to greater leadership.
A great secret to maximizing your leadership gifting is to surround yourself with leaders faster and smarter than you are. That takes inner security on your part and a willingness to share the credit.
Ask God to bring these gifted leaders, one at a time, into the scope of your ministry. Even just one makes a huge difference.
Here’s the key, don’t invite them in just for your advantage, make sure you invest in them as well.
5) Invest in your spiritual, physical, and emotional health.
Your calling, gifting, willingness to work hard and develop a strong team is of little good long term if you don’t take care of yourself.
Where do you most need to invest in your well-being?
How is your spiritual life?
Are you getting that quiet, thoughtful prayer time you need?
How’s your physical health?
Do you have the vitality, energy, and stamina you need to lead larger and still remain joyful? Do you have energy left for those you love the most?
How’s the stability of your emotions?
Do you struggle with anger, discouragement, or mood swings? Sometimes just lowering stress levels will help a lot; other times, significant lifestyle changes are needed.
6) Find your lane and stick with it.
What are you really good at? Not just what you love to do, but what do you love, and people recognize that you’re really good at it?
Let me give an important caveat if you are a young leader; this takes time to figure it out. You can’t rush the process of discovering and developing what you are uniquely good at.
That process often involves discovering what you are not good at. For example, I’m not good in finances, technology, building issues, or much in the creative arts. You might be wondering, well, what are you good at?! For me, it’s leadership development, strategy, staffing, relationship solutions, coaching, and teaching.
How about you? What’s your lane?
If you don’t know yet, keep leading and learning till you do, and then stay in your lane! Get really good!
7) Find a mentor or leadership coach and keep growing.
For most of us, the first six points are helpful and even powerful, but at some point, you need a coach.
You need a mentor to invest in you. Whether that is a formal agreement with a professional coach or a friend who is ahead of you in life and leadership who will have coffee with you on occasion, it makes a difference.
If you don’t have one yet, you can start by reading their books, articles and listening to great podcasts. There is no need to wait.
Don’t settle for mediocre; you can lead above the middle of the pack.