You’re Not Always a “Great” Leader (and It’s Okay)

We live in a time when the pressure to be a great leader is a clear mandate for everyone from pastors to business executives.

Being average is unacceptable. Leadership books and conferences are everywhere. I have no fewer than thirty books about leadership in my personal library. If you Google “leadership,” you’ll find about 775,000,000 results.

Leadership is a big deal in today’s world.

Yes, leadership matters.

Of course, mediocrity is never a good thing.

Personal growth is always preferred over the status quo—especially if the status quo is pathetic.

Being better is always a worthy goal.

My concern, however, is the growing internal conflict I see in leaders who will, quite frankly, never be all that great.

On our best days, most of us are average.

A lot of us are one or three-talent people rather than five-talent worldwide rock stars (a loose reference to a parable by Jesus). In the story, the first guy got just one bag of gold because the boss knew what he was capable of handling. Evidently, the other guys received more because they could manage more.

The number of bags (i.e. talents) wasn’t the issue.

I’m afraid we’ve missed something important in this parable. In Jesus’ story, the owner gave to each person “according to their ability.” He gave each of them what he knew they could successfully oversee.

Here’s a well-known leadership principle: Giving too much to someone too soon sets them up for failure, especially if it’s well beyond their capability or gift-mix. Stretching people is fine, but breaking individuals with a load far beyond their capacity is not.

Of course, the main point of the parable is simple: Be faithful with what you have. Be diligent. Work hard. Do your best. But for heaven’s sake, don’t compare yourself to the five-talent people.

For years, I fell into the trap of comparison.

I would watch myself on video or read something I’d written and get mildly depressed because, well, because I was average. It didn’t take me long to realize that I’d never be a Rick Warren, Bill Hybels or an Andy Stanley.

Sadly, I measured myself and my success by a standard that God never had put on me.

Certainly, I want to grow and develop as a teacher and an author, but I’ll never be gifted to speak like Beth Moore or write like C.S. Lewis.

And it’s okay.

Really. It’s fine.

I don’t have to be a “Big L” leader to be counted trustworthy or approved by the Father.

What am I responsible to do?

Grow. Be faithful. Be committed and true. Be the best me I can be in Christ and stay the course no matter what may come.

God expects you and me to use what He gave us. He’s looking for devoted, reliable, and dedicated servants, not superstars.

When Jesus returns, He won’t care whether or not you made it on TV or a bestseller list (and I suspect you won’t care then either). The only question will be, did you do your best with His investment in you? And the only thing you will want to hear is, “Good work! You did your job well” (Mark 25:21 MSG).

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be motivated by a fear of being average. Not everyone is born to be great.

In reality, average does not always mean mediocre, and ordinary doesn’t always mean you’re second-rate. The truth is, average is acceptable if average is your best. Just be better tomorrow than you are today.

So, take a deep breath. It’s okay to be normal. Most of us are.

Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Ellen Coffin

    Thanks, faithfulness is the point and we work hard at that.
    Seeing Him smile is the main thing.

    1. KurtBubna

      Well said, Ellen. Love you guys!

  2. Roberta depner

    Jerry Cooke had a grasp on this. His words have had long term impact on how I choose to live life. “Do well that which God has called you to do. Don’t spend time doing well, that which He has not called you to do.”
    Great man! Great words!!

    1. KurtBubna

      LOVE Jerry (and miss him). One of my most favorite books is his (Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness). Love you too, Roberta!

  3. Martha Orlando

    God doesn’t expect us to BE the best in the eyes of the world, but only to DO our best with the gifts He’s given each of us. If we sit back complacently, saying we’ll never amount to anything, we will be like man who hid the one sack of gold in the ground. And truth be told, we won’t amount to anything because we never even tried!
    Great post, Kurt!

    1. KurtBubna

      Thanks! Blessings back at ya!

  4. Clare McCracken

    Thank you Kurt. I needed this today. I’m going to add that it’s ok if my kids are average with flashes of brilliance. Thank you for your message Sunday and for your book “Epic Grace”. I was visiting from Lewiston and happy to get your book at church! I’ve been reading and soaking in grace. When I finish reading “Epic Grace” I’m excited to pass it on but also feeling like I will want to just start at the beginning and read it again for myself! I’m going to need to buy more copies. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with us. Thank you for being faithful with what you have been given!

    1. KurtBubna

      You are welcome, Clare. Glad you’re enjoying the book. You are loved!

  5. Niki Anderson

    I like this, Kurt. The big guy has a role that suits his gifting and he’s called to fulfill that role. Another guy (or gal) may not be in the forefront or regarded as extraordinary
    but that doesn’t mean the role isn’t truly great.

    1. KurtBubna

      Sadly, we tend to define “great” far differently than our Father. Thanks for adding your insight, Niki. You are loved!

  6. Nathan Bubna

    Yep. It is better to be faithful than famous, and worse to be fearful than a failure.

    At least, that’s what i always got out of that parable. Thanks, Dad!

    1. KurtBubna

      Well said, Son! You should write a book or start a blog! 🙂 Proud of you!

  7. Rebecca Gump

    Yes and Amen. I remember God showing me Billy Graham and I both obeyed what he asked us to do and that’s all that mattered to him!

    1. KurtBubna

      Yup. It’s all about faithfulness and obedience! Thanks for being both at Eastpoint!

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