I’m a psychologist who regularly reads Fast Company magazine in part because of its window to cultural trends and its emphasis on leadership. The magazine rarely mentions churches but the current (December 2010/January 2011) issue features a story about the annual leadership summit at Willow Creek Community church. I attend the summit most years and was impressed with the magazine’s informative and generally affirmative evaluation of an evangelical church that honors God, learns from what he has taught leaders in the ministry and secular worlds, and annually teaches roughly 125,000 leaders and wannabe leaders to be more effective in their lives and ministries.
More than 20 years ago, Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels had lunch with management guru Peter Drucker. A committed Christian, Drucker asked the young pastor, “What is the unique contribution that God is asking you to make?” Hybels concluded that one of his unique contributions was to create a resource for pastors who didn’t have firsthand access to thinkers and world-class leaders like Drucker.
The question remains relevant today, applicable to counselors, coaches, teachers and others who seek to encourage, guide or mentor. Only a few are chosen to be influential leaders but are we each called to make a unique contribution that arises from our unique experiences, abilities, educational opportunities, passions and God-given calling?
Finding one’s unique contribution can be a long process. It may come in some clear way from God. Ask Moses or Saul of Tarsus. It can come from prayer, reflection and scripture. It comes from the guidance of mentors, even distant mentors who appear on a stage or in a video. It comes from coaches and counselors. We also learn from reading. Consider this Hybels quotation: “For reasons known only to God, I’ve been put in a position of influence. Reading is one of the most economical ways to get better at it.”
How would you answer these two questions? What is the unique contribution that God is asking you to make? And how does this apply to the ways in which you help or build up others? Please feel free to share your answer or leave a comment.