That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”  Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.Ephesians 4:8, 11-12 NLT
Leaders are great gifts to the people. That is a core intention of God for the leadership role. Not only that, they are intended to be appreciated as perhaps the best gifts that people can receive here on the earth. When we have the opportunity to be under good leaders, we ought to celebrate as though we have found not just gold but actually rubies.
I drew inspiration from the above scriptural quote. It tells us that God through Christ gave gifts to his people, all people who would receive them, his church. These ‘gifts’ were in the form of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. To be sure, these are simply categories of leadership, with each level reflecting maturity in the ability to lead. It is the same structure we find in other spheres of life. There are leaders at different levels assigned to carry out essentially leadership responsibilities. The point that we must not miss is that they are given as “gifts.” Leaders are great gifts by calling and design.
It is interesting that God also gave Jesus to us as a ‘gift.’ And we understand that Jesus came to ‘lead’ those who would follow Him back to God. He was required to carry the ‘government’ upon His shoulders! That speaks of a huge leadership responsibility that characterized His assignment. We ought to appreciate Him as the gift that He was and is, should learn from His model of leadership. Leaders are great gifts and Jesus is an excellent example.
Interestingly, this was a core aspect of the focus of the book I released at Christmas titled, CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT LEADERSHIP. More importantly, I sought to draw attention to the all-important leadership dimension of the assignment of Jesus Christ, the greatest leader that ever lived. In particular, He did have a mandate, as many of us leaders have today and at all times, but that mandate was successfully accomplished on the platform of strong and true leadership. Without successfully carrying the burden of leadership, the ‘government’ that was placed upon His shoulders, His mandate would have been jeopardized.
When we, therefore, celebrate the coming of this wonderful Son of God, as the Messiah, we should equally remember to celebrate Him as a leader. He should remain a gift that should be appreciated like every leader as God intended.
Are you a gift?
Dear leader, let me ask ‘are you a gift?’ Do you regard yourself as a gift to the people you led and are called to serve? Do you appreciate yourself from that perspective at all? Are you appreciated by your followers as a ‘gift?’ These are important questions that you need to ask yourself. Indeed, this is a question to ask on a continuous basis, as you carry out your leadership assignment. It will help you to know whether you remain on track or you have derailed?
If you do not appreciate that you are a gift to your people as a leader, it will show up in your approach to your leadership assignment. The motivation to add value and be a source of joy and blessing to your followers will not be there. Your leadership efforts will be undermined.
If your people do not treat you as a ‘gift,’ with joy, excitement, appreciation, honour, and respect, you are not making the right impact. Your credibility will be at stake. You will continue to struggle to make an impact and to bring about the transformation in them that leaders are expected to achieve with their followers.
The purpose of the gift of the leader
If you refer to the opening quote again, you will discover that the ‘gift’ of leaders is intended to achieve a well-defined purpose. Indeed, an accomplishment of that purpose is what will register the leaders as true gifts in the hearts and eyes of their followers, the beneficiaries. Leaders are given as gifts to followers to “equip” them to be leaders as well, and to “build” them up for that purpose.
When you as a leader fail to equip and build up your people to become leaders like you, you fail in your assignment, and indeed, fail as a ‘gift’ to them. When your people do not experience any improvement in their skill and knowledge, they cannot appreciate the leader as a gift to them.
Let it be clear. therefore, that while you may even consider yourself to be a ‘gift’ to your people as their leader, the ultimate test of the quality of ‘gift’ that you are to them is how much you succeed to equip and build them. The impact you make on them in this regard must be such that is unmistakable to you and is well acknowledged by them, your followers.
Time to change our perspective
It’s time to change our perspective on our leadership responsibility. It’s time to see ourselves as gifts to the people we serve. We should now take steps to live up to our calling and be true gifts in the eyes of our followers.
When we see ourselves as gifts, and truly understand what that means, we will find it easier to shoulder the huge responsibility of leadership. Our motivation to do leadership will change and our approach as well. The result will be more purposeful leadership and everyone will be the better for it.
It is time to let followers understand this perspective of the leadership responsibility as well. They should look forward to enjoying their leaders as gifts. It should make the leader-follower interaction more enjoyable for both parties. The result should be successor leaders that are capable, having the right perspective on leadership.
You, dear leader, are a great gift to your people. Let them experience you as such and embrace your approach as they develop into leaders themselves under your watch.
That is true leadership.