The Reluctant Leader

I was working on one of the articles in the new Invitation to Leadership volume that is the first volume in our series of book to develop leaders. The theme was: 

The Reluctant Leader.  

Here is a little bit of that article:

There are certainly those who embrace leadership. I have seen this in the biographies about Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Church and Margaret Thatcher. These were political leaders who sought power and authority so they can accomplish the great tasks before them. In the Bible the prophet Isaiah comes to mind.  God has a mission and he needs a prophet/leader to fulfill it. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall i send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8)! In the Book of Judges, the prophetess Deborah stands out as a woman who embraced leadership when others were afraid to lead (see Judges 4).

Yet . . . I am still surprised by the reluctance on the part of many, when it comes to leadership. In spite of the importance of leadership, the great needs that require wise leadership and the invitation of God to the task of leadership, for every Isaiah or Deborah, there seem to be a dozen who are more like Jonah.

You see, when he was called by God and given a specific mission, Jonah RAN.  (Jonah 1-4)

Barak REFUSED and told Deborah, he would not lead if she didn’t lead.  (Judges 4:8)

Gideon HID and demanded a sign – twice.  (Judges 6)

Queen Esther ARGUED and said it was too dangerous.  (Esther 4)

Jeremiah COMPLAINED, LAMENTED and sank into deep DEPRESSION. To be fair, his calling was a very hard one! (Jeremiah 1; 20:7-18)

Moses RESISTED and RESISTED SOME MORE. He also WHINED (in my reading of his story). (Exodus 3 & 4).

Elijah, at first, listened, obeyed and led. But then . . . he became afraid of the challenge and RAN and SULKED (again, that’s how I read it) and was set aside for another more willing leader.  (1 Kings 18 & 19)

I am sure you get the picture being painted in the Bible.

Reluctant leadership is not a 21st century phenomenon!


I then go on in this article to reflect on why there are so many Reluctant Leaders.

How about yourself?
When have you resisted God's invitation?
What were the reasons you offered?
What was the eventual outcome?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International