Leadership Doesn’t Just Happen

By Guest Contributor July 1, 2015

By Brad Widstrom

I had lunch last week with one of my grads. Well, Erik is actually one of my heroes as well. I use him in class as an example of a person who realizes and embraces that God calls all believers to a life of kingdom ministry, no matter their occupation. Full-time professional ministry or a secular job, we are all called to serve. Erik also understands the importance of equipping and leadership training, no matter where God calls.

Erik and his wife, Aleah, relocated from Seattle to Denver, leaving family and friends. He squeezed a three-year Master of Divinity degree into five years, at significant personal and financial cost. Yet Erik did not intend to pursue a church-based pastoral position—not even a parachurch role. That was not and is not his calling.

From the outset, their plan was to complete the degree, obtain the theological and ministry skill training, and then return to Aleah’s hometown of Yakima, where Erik would assist her father with the family drug store. Yep, you read that right: a master’s degree from a seminary to manage the medical supply side of Howard’s Pharmacy.

Erik and Aleah’s kingdom goal was marketplace ministry, to build redemptive relationships with high school students. Their entry point was track and cross-country. They originally met while running with the University of Washington’s cross-country team. They planned to help coach the distance runners at her high school and volunteer with the local FCA club. Erik knew he needed training to prepare for that role, so he decided to attend seminary first.

Now, almost 10 years later, Erik was in Denver for a conference, and we were able to catch up over lunch. Erik has been successful in business. He is now leading the opening of a third Howard’s Pharmacy location, this one in Ellensburg. God has also blessed Erik in his ministry goals. He and Aleah are involved with FCA, lead a home group for their church, and coach distance runners at the school. They even launched a running club, the Sun City Harriers. And Erik is bringing biblical principles and teaching into the planning, administration, and leadership of his business.

“All believers need to pursue ongoing training–especially those called as kingdom leaders.”

But the thing that struck me most about our conversation was Erik’s insistence that his time at Denver Seminary was not wasted. In fact, he stated over and over again how significant the theological and practical training was for his personal, professional, and ministry life. “If you could travel back in time,” I asked him, “would you do it again?” “Yes!” Erik said emphatically. “All believers need to pursue ongoing training and equipping—especially those who are gifted, skilled, and called as kingdom leaders. Gifting and skills are not enough.”

Amen! Not everyone can or should attend seminary. That’s not the lesson we should take from Erik’s story. Instead, we should feel the challenge to intentionally pursue ongoing equipping for the roles into which God has called us. And when we are able, we should make training available to those who serve alongside and under us. Leadership doesn’t just happen. It’s a blend of calling, gifting, and training.

How are you doing in the equipping of your people? What about your own equipping? Is it time to listen to Erik’s challenge to rise to higher levels of effectiveness as a leader through the pursuit of your own next-step training? Consider these questions. Pray that God will lead you to the answers. Then act on them. Not for my sake, nor for Erik’s, but for those to whom God has called you, that you might be even more effective for the sake of the kingdom.

CC Image courtesy Jose Zaragoza on Flickr.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry…  Read More