#301 Serving leaders ask themselves: “Who am I?”

May 26, 2021

Most leaders see themselves as people with answers but serving leaders are more concerned about asking the right questions than having the right answers. Asking questions helps people think, helps people grow and helps people lead. So, serving leaders grow themselves and others by learning to ask good strategic questions of themselves and of those they lead. In this series we’ll examine questions that serving leaders ask themselves and a corresponding question that they ask those who follow. The first and primary question leaders ask themselves is, “Who am I?” Paul invites this question when he says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3, NIV). Paul invites all leaders to think of themselves “with sober judgement.” It is not always selfish to think of self. When done with sober judgment one of the ways leaders serve  the people they lead by thinking properly about their identity. Serving leaders ask themselves, “Who am I?” to recognize three components of who they are.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I?” to establish their identity.

Every leader needs to be grounded in their identity. Paul challenges leaders to reflect on who they are. He does this in the context of a diversity of giftings which God has given to individuals. The temptation for every leader is to identify themselves with their giftings. This can lead to false pride or thinking “of yourself more highly than you ought.” But serving leaders ask themselves, “Who am I?” in order to establish their identity not in what they do, but in who they are. When they ask this question, they avoid comparing themselves to other leaders but focus on who they are. They recognize that God distributes gifts but their identity lies in their relationship with the giver, not the gift.

Serving leaders ask “Who am I?“ to express their strengths.

Paul asks leaders to reflect on the “faith” or gifts that God has given to them. In the context, he is looking at the diversity of gifts that God gives to His people. Serving leaders base their identity on their relationship with God but then ask themselves “Who am I?” to discover and express their strengths. They seek to identify and confirm the gifts God has given them. They are eager to learn about the areas in which they are strong in order to fully maximize their strengths. They acknowledge that they will only flourish in their leadership role when they are utilizing the unique strengths God has given them.

Serving leaders ask “Who am I?“  to expose their weaknesses.

Paul requests that leaders think of themselves with “sober judgement.”  While serving leaders focus on building on their strengths, they also ask “Who am I?” to expose who they are not. They uncover their weaknesses in the journey of self-discovery. As they do so, they do not compare themselves with others who have different gifts. Nor do they seek to become strong in areas in which they are not gifted. Instead, serving leaders allow their weaknesses to move them toward others who complement their strengths. They allow their weaknesses to help them build a well-rounded team.

Start the journey of asking the right questions by asking yourself, “Who am I?”

For further reflection and discussion:

  • On what do I base my identity? Is it primarily focused on my gifts and accomplishments or on my relationship with God? What difference does this make in the way I lead?   
  • What are my greatest strengths? (List several) Am I tempted to see my strengths as a way to  feel  better than others? If so, how does this impact my leadership? What am I doing to develop my strengths?
  • What are my significant weaknesses? (List several) Am I tempted to look down on myself because of these weaknesses or do I acknowledge that I have weaknesses that require me to work with others who can complement me?              

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at how serving leaders ask those who follow, “Who are you?”