May 22, 2018

By Amy Thompson

It’s June and time for Annual Conference. The theme this year is Freed-2-Lead. As I attend meetings and talk with directors and district superintendents, I find myself in many conversations centered around leadership. As we explore leadership in this conference, it causes me to pause and wonder how laity approach leading within their church, their ministry areas and their community. On a quest to understand the perspectives that our laity hold, I reached out to laity across our conference seeking their thoughts and comments on leading. 
    
I posed this question: What leading means to me? I received responses related to use of our gifts, influencing others, spiritual practices and some responses were based in scripture. Some of the responses I received are below.
    
I believe that God always blesses us to be a blessing to others, so leading for me is taking the gifts and the grace God has given me and using them to help others discover their own God-given gifts, and God’s grace in their own lives.
    
To be an effective leader you should listen before you speak, and you need to serve to lead. This statement is grounded in two pieces of scripture found in James 1:19 and Luke 22:26.
    
Leaders motivate people to move from where they are spiritually, mentally, institutionally to where they need to go.
    
Leading to me means fulfilling this commandment from Jesus found in Matthew 25:35-40. “…I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was in prison and you visited…” Leading means I have to get outside the building and be present in my community.
    
To me, leadership is influence: clear, consistent focus upon purpose, which inspires people to think and act toward a common big purpose (mission).
    
We lead students because we want their walk with Jesus to go further than ours. We lead because we want our students to know you can follow Jesus and not be perfect. We can teach that the great thing about Jesus is He loves us right where we are.
    
Leading means walking along with others to be open to new and different ways to lead people to Jesus Christ and to learn how they fit into God’s world. It is a partnership of sharing.
    
To truly attain my purpose or to be in a place to lead, I must keep personal time with God a priority. Whatever feeds your soul — bible reading, prayer, devotions, quiet time-make time to stay in relationship with God. Leadership begins here.
  
I encourage you to reflect on some of the responses and consider your own response to the question - What leading means to me? Feel empowered to take a step in growing your leadership capacity through building your spiritual disciplines, mentoring someone, identifying your spiritual gifts, reading a book or attending a workshop. As you take a step be in prayer seeking God’s guidance for the best use of your gifts. As we enter this season in our church I am convinced more than ever that strong laity leadership based in prayer and Spirit-filled will be important in growing God’s Kingdom and living in spiritual community together.