Everyone pretty much agrees leadership is important, but what is it?

In this 7-part blog series we’ll explore that question together.

What’s your definition?

A definition is crucial, because without one, what are we actually talking about when it comes to training leaders? How well can we demonstrate and develop what we can’t properly define?

A popular definition is, ‘leadership is influence‘ but I don’t think that says enough: gravity is influencing me, but it’s not leading me. It keeps my feet on the ground, but doesn’t guide me to a better destination. It’s also not particularly anchored in the Biblical narrative.

I think the whole counsel of Scripture, right from the Bible’s opening chapters, leads to a definition of leadership as stewardship.

When we read the commands given to humanity in Genesis 1:28 and 2:15 together, particularly in light of parts of the Bible, like Revelation 21:18-21, we see that leadership is about bringing forth creation’s inherent fruitfulness.

I like the way John Mark Comer in Garden City says it’s about rearranging the raw materials of Planet Earth into a place of delight; clothing the Garden with gold and precious stones to make it a beautiful city.

In light of Genesis 2:15 we are to abad (work, serve and thereby worship), shamar-ing (guarding, and in this context, drawing out the potential of) creation. Together these words are a good definition of what leadership is – stewardship – green fingered leaders who enable God’s garden (think people, spouse, children, team, group, church) to flourish.

It’s releasing the inherent potential God’s put inside every person He’s entrusted you with in some way.

This is also grace-based leadership.

What (who) we steward is given to us by grace (Adam and Eve didn’t earn the right to be in or eat of the Garden). Grace is explicit from the start and implicit throughout the story. We are given grace to steward, trusting the Gracious One who is ultimately responsible for His creation.

It’s by grace therefore and not fear we’re motivated to give a good account for what’s been entrusted to us, looking forward to God’s “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:14-30). The Apostle Paul picks up on this farming imagery in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, we plant and water, but only God can make things grow – “we are God’s fellow-workers; you are God’s field…”

What’s the main thing God’s given you to steward; before your spouse, children and the people He calls you to lead? The answer of course is yourself. You matter in your own right, but also because people matter. It’s what air hostesses say every day to their passengers, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you help (lead) anyone else.

So how well are you growing in God’s garden?

And how good does your ‘garden’ grow?