BeliefNet, branded as the world’s largest multi-faith, spirituality, and inspiration website, recently named me on a short list,“8 Christian thought leaders you should know.” I am honored for this inclusion with such names as Dr. Cornel West, Dianna Hobbs, Propaganda, Tripp Lee, and Devon Franklin.
Earlier this year, Ben Lichtenwalner of ModertServantLeader.com included me on his list of the “Top Leadership Experts to Follow in 2015.” This diverse list also featured Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Hybels, John C. Maxwell, Bianca Juarez Olthoff, Ben Carson, Erika Harold, Max Lucado, Michael Hyatt, and Tony Dungy.
Some might ask, “How do you become a thought leader (at least online)?”
Most of my online influence or leadership comes from writing, and the personal and professional relationships I have built on my faith journey. The writing overflows out of what I live, how I minister, and the decisions made on a daily basis. The end state is never to get people to follow me, if anything I want to live in such a way that folks see Jesus in me and choose to follow Him. Because I follow him, I am intentional in living my life on purpose for his good purposes, and that includes stewarding the spiritual gift of leadership he has given me. Here are a few of the ways I do that:
- When traveling and speaking, I constantly put myself in situations where I am not the smartest person in the room. On my good days, I am not insecure or lacking in confidence, so I welcome the opportunity to share space with others who are wiser than me.
- When wise folks speak, I LISTEN and LEARN. Part of learning includes asking a lot of questions (which I do).
- I work to maintain a diverse reading diet. This includes having a goal of reading the entire Bible in a year. I often fall short of that goal, but any given year I have had a healthy reading of the different genres within the canon of scripture. This spiritual discipline is often the foundation of my prayer life, other reading, and teaching. Throughout the year, I read books about theology, leadership, justice and reconciliation, discipleship and spiritual formation, Christian thought or ethics, history, classics, and memoirs or auto/biographies.
All great leaders read. What and who you read is of particular importance. Be intentional about making the choice to read books authored by women and men, racially and ethnically diverse authors, non-American authors, authors from different generations, and please don’t forget about the important history books and classics. I regularly make the choice to read books that will equip me for the work and purpose for which I am called. Having a solid reading diet is preparation for where I am currently leading, and where God is leading me.
Who you listen to or who you follow? Where you interact and learn from others? How well do you listen, ask the right questions, or maintain a humble and teachable posture? What do you consistently read and why? All of these considerations will determine how effectively you grow as a thought leader. What other tips do you have to offer?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015