I've spent most of my life in leadership. I led my little sister in shenanigans for years. I led my friends on the playground and my fellow students in the classroom. I was captain of my cross-country team in high school and served on Student Senate in college. I was on the student leadership team for my church youth group and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. But I never thought about leadership until I was an adult. I behaved as a leader because God had given me a leadership gift and called me to use it. It was natural for me. I found places to lead without setting out to do so.
In my career I define myself as a leader because I carry formal leadership responsibilities. Because leadership is in my job description, I'm sometimes tempted to think of leadership as simply something I do at work, just another job responsibility. If I weren't getting paid to lead others, it might not be so easy for me to see how God has called me to use my leadership gift.
Some of you find yourselves in that position: You feel you have the gift of leadership, but you don't have a formal title or role that designates you as a leader. Does that mean you aren't called to lead? Of course not!
If you have the gift of leadership, you probably are leading somehow, whether you know it or not. (If you have not fully accepted your gift, you may even be leading in destructive ways - but that's a topic for another article.) If you're in step with the Holy Spirit, your gift will demand to find expression.
If you don't have a formal leadership role, you may feel frustrated that you're unable to meet a recognized need for your leadership gift. But that doesn't mean you should sit around, waiting for someone else to grant you the right to lead. God has already given you that responsibility. So find a place to lead - or accept the leadership role he's already given you.
Maybe your leadership is at home, corralling kids and their friends and busy family schedules, bringing order to what could easily be chaos. Maybe you have the opportunity to lead a community organization. Look around - is there a cause waiting for a champion? Perhaps you can rally volunteers from your church. When was the last time you said, "Someone ought to do something"? Maybe that someone is you. Be an activist, an agent for change, a voice for truth, a visionary.
If you don't have a formal leadership role, you face an exciting opportunity. If God has given you the gift of leadership, he wants to use you somewhere. Look for those natural opportunities to lead, the way you probably did when you were growing up - you don't need a fancy title. Open your eyes, and ask God to use you where you are.