When I began leading, I knew that it was an important responsibility. However, I did not understand or expect that leadership could grant money, power, and success. I didn’t realize that people actually pursued leadership opportunities solely for those reasons. We have all read enough headlines, however, to know that those empty motivations alone will not guarantee satisfaction in this life or the next.
“Leadership is about serving the people,” and this is a lesson that I learned fairly early on my leadership journey. Taking an oath “to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic” at the age of eighteen made it very clear that my decision to lead was about service. I agreed to serve my country and its citizens, but adequate training, observations, and challenging experiences equipped me to live out the acceptance of that oath.
Taking the oath was the foundation of teachings about honor, integrity, courage, responsibility, commitment, loyalty, teamwork, and valuing the needs of others above my own needs. The Navy encourages care for your ship, shipmate (those who partner you in service), and yourself, respectively. When entering the Marine Corps as a young officer, I was informed early on that officers eat last. In other words, we would esteem the enlisted personnel, who we were called to serve, by allowing them the opportunity to eat first. Esteeming others above ourselves is fundamental for serving in a manner worthy of the responsibility of leadership.
The esteem of others is secondary only to our desire and responsibility as Christian leaders to glorify God. Glorifying God in this capacity means that we offer him praise, honor, and thanksgiving through the manner in which we lead. At various times in life, we are all called to support missions and vision statements of some sort. Our individual jobs, tasks, or responsibilities will contribute to the overall success or failure of the missions that we support. It is of critical importance that we understand God’s standards for the integrity of our daily living, and whether or not we can, should, and in what capacity we are to complete the tasks that have been assigned to us. The Marine Corps outlines mission accomplishment and troop welfare (or taking care of those that you are called to lead) as the primary responsibilities of every leader.
God has outlined his mission, and he has given us clear instructions about how we are to live and lead:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2: 3-4
God calls us to servant leadership. It is all about Him, and those that he has called us to lead.
How has this realization impacted your approach to leadership?
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© Natasha L. Robinson 2010