By Natalie Puljung
My leadership is defined by whom I follow. It is easy to become consumed by leadership books and talks, and forget that Jesus is the ultimate example of leadership. Every leader needs to follow someone, and it would be foolish to think I can be the sole leader of myself. I define my leadership by following Christ. If I find myself reading more leadership books than the Word of God, then who am I actually following? If I claim to be a follower of Jesus, yet use his words only to supplement my leadership, then am I really following him?
This is a tension I must manage on a daily basis. As a leader, when I ask God to lead me, it is then, and only then, that my leadership is truly effective. My leadership is defined not by the number of people following me, but by my willingness to be obedient and faithful to follow God’s leading.
I can see that I’m leading when I point others to Jesus. Our student ministry leadership team has made a commitment to continually point students to Jesus. Student ministry is not primarily about behavior modification, but heart transformation. By that, I mean we would rather have a roomful of students who love Jesus with their whole hearts than a roomful of students who behave properly, yet have not been changed by Jesus.
If I point students to Jesus in all circumstances, whether through discipleship, teaching, or disciplining, and as a result they see God working in their lives and life-change becomes evident, I know I’ve led well. Student ministry is not about being a rock star or well-known, it’s about daily obedience, pointing students to Jesus, and deflecting all the glory back to him.
If God will use me to lead, I must keep the same attitude as Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7:
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
Natalie Puljung serves as middle school pastor with Savannah Christian Church, Savannah, Georgia.