While many different definitions of leadership exist in the world today, the definition we use with our students comes from our class notes obtained at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. We like the following definition of leadership for its practicality, teachability, and direction parallel to Bill Hull’s definition of discipleship given at the beginning of this chapter:
Leadership is the process of influencing others to work together for a common purpose or goal.
Like discipleship, this definition of leadership contains four key elements. First, leadership is a process because leadership involves movement. One can only lead if he or she is going somewhere. Second, leadership involves influence because if no one is following, then whom are you leading? Also, we like the idea of influence being the goal of leadership because influence can take place at any level. You can influence those above you, influence those around you, and influence those who look up to you. Influence involves daily decision-making that shows attitude reflected through action. Leadership means that each day matters and that the means is just as important as the end. Third, leadership involves cooperation because there are certain things in life you cannot do alone. For example, you can’t play hide and seek, tag, or marco polo by yourself. It would be kind of awkward if you showed up to a wedding to find out that the bride and groom were the same person. There are certain things in life that you cannot do alone, and the Christian life is one of them. We’re called the body of Christ for a reason (1 Corinthians 12:27). Finally, leadership involves having a common purpose because teams work best together when they share a common goal. Sports teams function best when they share the goal of winning the championship. Musicians function best when they play different parts to the same song. Militaries function best when soldiers follow orders to obtain the objective and to ultimately win the war. We believe churches should be able to work through a variety of internal conflicts as long as they keep focus on the goal for the church: we’re called to give God glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) through living out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and Great Commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).
If you are interested in more information about the book, please check out www.equipstudentleaders.com.