The Strength of a Reluctant Leader

By Guest Post

Do people look to you to solve problems or provide the answers or direction needed to accomplish a major task or event (though you have not volunteered your assistance or provided any sign that you wished to do so)? You might have no pressing desire to be the one that directs and guides others (and would prefer to stay in the background) yet responsibility regularly falls in your lap? If so, you may be what is called a Reluctant Leader.

Your reluctance does not negate God’s desire to use you as a leader. More than likely, you may the very type of leader that would fit best into a situation because you are not seeking the opportunity for status or recognition. Instead, there is supernatural giftedness that God has placed within you which compels others to see you as a leader.

Prime biblical examples of this leadership persona are found in Moses and Esther. Both found themselves in places of difficult leadership they had not sought. They even questioned whether they would be able to carry the very challenging mandates that had been given. In Exodus chapters 3 and 4, Moses has an extensive conversation with God regarding his lack of confidence in being received as a leader, having the capabilities of a leader or being able to complete the challenge of freeing the people from their bondage. In the case of Moses, have you ever considered that the reason God chose such an unassuming person was because through him His miraculous power would be clearly shown? If God has called you to a place of leadership that you never sought, then He must see divine potential in you that is beyond yourself. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, your life can be used as a magnificent tool to bring glory to His name.

a magnificent tool

In Esther’s case, she was thrust into leadership by her relative and groomed by the king’s court as a queen. She was not even able to reveal her true identity as a Jew during this leadership development. That revelation itself would have automatically eliminated her from being able to be a member of the king’s court, a role that allowed her to influence the king’s decision-making. She followed directions and conformed to what was expected of her until the day came when she had to make a life or death leadership decision for herself and her people. Though Esther was faced with insurmountable circumstances, she led her people to fast and pray with her for God’s divine favor to accomplish the task of rescuing her people from the hands of her foe.

In many of our circumstances, we may not have chosen to be thrust into the role of pastor’s, planter’s, or minister’s wife, but here we find ourselves. There may be expectations that are placed on us because of the inadvertent position we are in. Though we may not fear being executed as Esther faced by defying the king’s edict there are many instances where we may be fearful of what people might think or say, as well as being terrified by not being valued or failing to be heard. Such feelings can cause us to have reluctance to lead, but as Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, challenged her, in Esther 4:14, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

In God’s timing, He has chosen us to step upon the stage of leadership and we must trust that His plans are good and perfect, and that He has given us everything we need to fulfill the role He has ordained and placed us in. If you truly believe you are one with your husband, then though you may not play a regularly visible role in leadership, it is still necessary for you to embrace whatever leadership role God has planned for you. A.W. Tozer, one of my favorite theologians explains it well in his definition of a true leader:

A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of the external situation. … I believe it might be accepted as a fairly reliable rule of thumb that the [person] who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The true leader will have no desire to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing, and altogether as ready to follow as to lead, when the Spirit makes it clear that a wiser and more gifted [person] then them self has appeared.

What areas of fear regarding leadership do you need to surrender to the Lord?
Have you been reluctant to step out in leadership roles do to your feelings of insufficiency or a lack of confidence?

Lord, today help me to walk boldly by the power of Your Spirit in the leadership role You have called me to, accepting that You have laid the path before me and will order my steps as I follow Your will for my life.

52A252AF-EC5D-45EC-93CC-464E882EB9B9Marshelle Jackson Wilburn, urban missionary, writer and speaker in the San Francisco Bay Area, partners with her husband, Port Wilburn, Executive Director of SF Peninsula Baptist Association and Lead Pastor of Rock Harbor, in their multiethnic church plant and urban church planting. Together they have 5 children and provide coaching and conferences through their ministry Fortified Families. Since 2007, she has been in management at the largest homeless shelter in the East Bay. Visit her blog at

Published February 29, 2016

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