At the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, Pastor Bill Hybels asked this question, “Who planted in your mind the idea of you becoming a leader?” My mind immediately raced back decades to a talk with Uncle Rudy on a hot August day in a Kansas farm field.
It was just the two of us, Uncle Rudy and I were taking a rest break from stacking shocks of sorghum. Rudy was a former NCO and then became a small town high school teacher and football coach. I was about to begin my last year as a quarterback and team captain at our local high school. Also on our team was my younger brother, Chuck, who was the talk of the town for his athletic potential. Although I was a pretty good athlete, it was Chuck who was destined to be a Division I college football star.
Rudy’s words from that day still ring in my mind: “Tom, I know Chuck gets all of the acclaim, and he truly is a remarkable athlete, but I see something in you that is also exceptional. It’s something I desperately want on my own football team. You’re a leader; you inspire confidence in others; you draw the best out of them.” His words were music to my ears. I didn’t need to match Chuck as an athlete; we had different purposes and both mattered. Rudy became the first in a lengthy line of people that God used to spark a vision of the direction I was called to pursue. His words were a spark that ignited a lifelong effort and focus.
What Rudy did was a godly thing to do. God changed the name of Abram (father) to Abraham (father of a multitude) to signify his role in the covenant relationship. Jesus seemed to preview Nathaniel’s role among the apostles when He noted, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47). The apostles gave Joseph the name Barnabas, which means son of encouragement, a unique role Barnabas filled in the first-century church.
As leaders, we are in excellent position to see the potential in others. If we are truly interested in them beyond what they can do for our mission, we will seek God’s view of how they are uniquely crafted for a purpose. And when we have a sense of that view we will find ways to speak it into another’s life.
Do you recall when someone spoke into your life and a vision was cast? Are you intentionally doing the same with those you serve?