Gifts, interests and calling

At Wycliffe USA, there’s a group of young leaders who meet together for mutual encouragement, accountability and to challenge each other. The goal of The Threshing Floor is to discuss issues of leadership and prompt each other to action. In meeting with this group twice a month for the last two years, I’ve noticed that there are differences between having leadership gifts, leadership interests and leadership calling. Reluctance seems to happen when one or more of those characteristics is missing.

(Notice that I didn’t list leadership positions. I think all of us can think of someone who has a position but lacks the other three.)

Let me give a couple of examples. For starters, I’ve watched a handful of people who come in streaks. They come for a while, then disappear. After a while they return. Why? I’ve concluded that they are intrigued by the idea of leadership. They’re students of it; they like to watch leadership in action up close. But every time they try setting out for the deep end themselves, they panic. Then they throw up their hands and stop pursuing leadership… for a while. Eventually that interest bubbles to the surface and they return.

So, do they just have leadership interests but no calling? Or no gifting? I’m not sure that’s it, because I’ve seen them influence people. I think they’re more comfortable following, except that they can’t simply follow. For some, I believe they perceive leadership gifts in themselves but they either haven’t found their niche or have failed gloriously the few times they’ve tried it.

What about the person who has leadership gifts and calling but never sought it? Consider Steve Murrell, pastor and author of The Reluctant Leader blog. The rationale for naming his blog is an interesting read. This sentence sums it up for me:

Maybe you never wanted to be a leader, but then you turned around and people seem to be following you. Scary.

Any reluctant leaders out there? What’s your story?