Andy Stanley: 3 Responses that Make a Leader

At Catalyst Conference 2012, Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) discussed what makes a leader.

People are made leaders. God makes leaders.

Insight alone does not make a leader. When you hear a great leader tell their story, they rarely mention podcasts, conferences, articles, or information.

What makes a leader?

  1. Unexpected opportunity
    A leader may not be the first to recognize opportunity, but a leader is the first to seize opportunity.
  2. Unavoidable adversity
    All leaders face adversity.
  3. Unquestionable calling
    A leader sees a need that isn’t being met and has a burden for it that they just can’t shake.
But it wasn’t the opportunity, adversity, and calling that makes a leader. It is the response to those 3 that make a leader.
Is God calling you out of ministry or a nonprofit to go back to the workplace because you have a burden to be there? It is not God’s calling on your life that makes you a leader. Your response to that calling is what counts.
As you evaluate your response to unexpected opportunity, unavoidable adversity, and unquestionable calling, you need to write a story worth telling. The younger you are, the more important your responses will be, but the younger you are, the less consequential your responses will feel.
You don’t have control over this other than how you respond.
Moments that shaped me (Andy Stanley):
  1. My parents always told me, “God has a plan for your life, and you don’t want to miss it.” My parents taught me to pray about it every night.
  2. My dad refused to make decisions for me. Instead, he encouraged me to pray about it.
  3. As a freshman in college, the youth minister asked me to start a Bible study. He said, “I have a position and a title, but you (Andy) have influence, and I want you to use it.” It was the first time in my life I was thrown into an arena and didn’t know what to do. There is something powerful in that experiences that shapes and makes you.  God may choose you for an unexpected calling that you feel totally unprepared for.
  4. As a young minister tensions arose between the church I was a part of and the local homosexual community. I saw the local Methodists reach out to them lovingly and invite them to worship, and it impacted me. I saw a need to preach to our congregation about homosexuality in an era when there were no sermons about any type of homosexuality. Pay attention to the tension. Every once and awhile, you will be disturbed deeply by something, and you need to pay attention to that tension. Pay attention to the tension because that his how callings are placed on us. This is how God makes a leader. He stirs our heart.
The greatest thing you do as a leader may not be what you do but who watches what you do. Your children and grandchildren will be watching. Not only do actions speak louder than words, but sometimes they echo into the next generation.
God gets more mileage out of adversity than anything else. It is fun to open our hands and watch God put something there. But there is something very shaping when God starts taking things out of your hands.
You have no idea what hangs in the balance of your decision. Your response will make you. Your response is what God will use to make you the leader you need to be if you will lean into that opportunity, face adversity, and embrace your calling.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you.