No matter what position you hold to another person from anywhere in a 360 degree perspective, there is someone else who is setting their life and decisions according to the patterns they see in you.
For instance, we all know that kids watch their parents. They will choose their language and base their consumption habits based on the patterns in their households. If mom or dad live inspirational lives, the general rule is the kids will be inspired; if mom or dad live reactionary lives, the general rule is the kids will become reactionary to life.
But have you ever considered how parents watch their kids? A young child can lead a parent to spend oodles of money on certain toys and activities (Chuck E Cheese, anyone?), not to mention the power teenagers have in influencing what is considered "cool" or not. This is why you will often find adults driving cars they can't afford and wearing clothing they shouldn' (or can't). You will also find, though, kids inspiring their parents to become more active, playful, and carefree about life when we begin to make the wrong things our top priorities.
You get what I'm saying? Everyone is a leader, whether they realize it or not.
There are those who add a little bit of direction to the overall climate of a group by the tiny contributions they make - for better or for worse. One person may comment how much they enjoy the gifts of another... and everyone is a little blessed. Another person can talk about how they "just don't get into" this one thing that another person does... and everyone is a little poisoned.
So the question is what are you leading people to do?
- Forward: Perhaps it's stereotypical - what we think of as a leader. You motivate people forward... toward something of worth. It could be your favorite cause or perhaps something even more important - their eternity with Jesus Christ.
- Backward: Maybe you're a backward leader. Your pessimism has become contagious in the circles you're in as the problems you have with "so and so" start getting taken on by others. If this is you, you may find yourself ranting a lot about everyone from celebrities to how the butcher at the grocery store cheated you out of two cents of ground beef. And you may even want everyone to be as ticked off as you are.
- Neutral: It could very well be that you are a neutral leader... you influence others "not to care" because you've chosen not to. You hear the same appeals that others do, but don't want to get involved. In fact, you may even assume that since you're not ranting or criticizing that you're better than the backward leader. Actually, you could very well be worse because you're setting the tone that it's okay to do nothing... to come and go as you please... to decide commitment to a community or a goal simply isn't worth your consistent energy.
Even if it's your first time up to bat, you are a leader. Leadership doesn't always require speaking in front of crowds, becoming the CEO of a large corporation, or leading an entire nation out of slavery (as Moses did). Often it's something that happens with your family during dinner, in your cubicle at work, how you handle an issue in your neighborhood, or the relentless commitment you offer someone who has caused you hurt.
Need some inspiration? Check out this guy from ancient Egypt who stepped up to lead at a time when his people needed hope.
Again, sound familiar? We all need hope, don't we?
The world needs leaders who will lead people into a deeper connection with God. This is something you can tear down, pour apathy into, or stir up some genuine motivation for.
"A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm." - Henrik Ibsen