I really like analyzing people and their behavioral habits. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed something really interesting about people. As a general rule of thumb, people can be classified into two groups: givers and receivers.
Givers are the kind of people who tend to invest more in other people. They’re the ones who encourage and are more focused on other people, instead of themselves. They can often come across as independent and as the kind of person that doesn’t need any help.
Receivers are the kind of people who tend to seek encouragement instead of provide it. It’s not that receivers don’t focus on other people, but they can often interact with others with the purpose of wanting to be affirmed by others. They can often come across and “needy” and less self-sufficient.
Now, the two types of people I just described are extreme examples. But I’ve noticed that most of us fall into one of those two categories, even if we’re not as extreme as what I just described. I’ve also noticed that it’s easy to view both of these types of people and their actions incorrectly.
You see, givers are often viewed as independent. But they need encouragement just like receivers do. They might seem like they don’t need anyone’s help, but they really do. They’ve just realized how important it is to be outward-focused. And receivers can come across as needy and dependent, people who only focus on themselves. But receivers can encourage others. They’ve just realized how important it is not to drain oneself and that it’s okay to focus on yourself sometimes.
Often it is easy to get caught up in focusing on others (being a giver) that we exhaust ourselves. Or we get caught up in taking care of ourselves (being a receiver) that we stop thinking about others.
So don’t be a giver. And don’t be a receiver. Be both. Be an encourager, but don’t wear yourself out. Invest yourself in others. But also be willing to receive encouragement and help from others when they offer it. Don’t be independent. Don’t be dependent. Be interdependent. Give and receive. Don’t be one. Be both.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
– Galatians 6:2
Influence. If you think about it, everyone has influence in some sphere of life. It’s just a fact. But that fact should make you stop and think. What am I doing with that influence? How am I using and managing that influence? How am I acquiring that influence?
There are two ways to use your influence. You can be a leader, or you can be a ruler. The difference between leaders and rulers is huge and extremely fundamental. At an Institute for Cultural Communicators training event this past spring, president and co-founder of ICC, Teresa Moon, spoke on the differences between leaders and rulers. Let’s take a look at a few of the differences that she pointed out:
- Leaders have followers; rulers have subjects. This is big! The primary difference between leaders and followers is the people they are influencing. Leaders have followers, people who want to follow and be influenced. Rulers, on the other hand, have subjects, people who have no choice but to follow and do what they’re told.
- Leaders are given their influence; rulers create their influence. Leaders are given their position by their followers. The followers want the leader to lead because of something in them – their character. Rulers force their position on their subjects. Followers choose; subjects are chosen.
- Leaders care about their followers; rulers use their subjects. Leaders are who they are not because they want influence but because they care about people and want to help them. That’s why followers choose them as leaders to start with. To contrast, rulers are only interested in influence and view their subjects only as means to an end. Rulers don’t care about their subjects as people, but merely as “things” to exert influence on.
Ultimately, leaders reflect the heart of God and His love, whereas rulers use force, which isn’t in accordance with what God calls us to.
From this comparison, it’s pretty clear which we should desire to be! Like I said at the beginning, we all have influence in some way. We must, therefore, choose whether we’ll be leaders or rulers. It’s easy to want to be a leader, but harder to actually practice it. I can definitely attest to this. Normally I’m fine with being a leader until things don’t go exactly how I want them to. Then I start to turn to the practices of a ruler so I can get things done the way I want them. It’s not always easy to be a leader! But it’s the right thing.
I encourage you to analyze your actions in light of leaders versus rulers. Strive to be a leader, no matter how hard it might be. When you find yourself tending toward the habits of a ruler instead of a leader, identify the circumstances encouraging this behavior so that you can best adjust your perspective, attitude, and actions.
If we all have influence in some way, then we must choose to be either a leader or a ruler. Choose to be a leader. Yes, let’s be leaders.
This past year, I had the honor and privilege of serving on the Institute for Cultural Communicators‘ 2012-2013 National Student Leader Council (NSLC). The responsibility of the NSLC pertains primarily to supporting ICC’s student leadership programs. Not only have I been able to support and serve ICC and its student leaders, but I have also learned much from this opportunity, especially regarding teamwork. Here are five lessons I’ve learned about teamwork as a result of serving on the NSLC:
- A team is one unit. I know this might sound a little obvious, but serving on the NSLC has shown me just how true this is. As a team, we are not individuals all working toward the same goal. We are one unit (made up of individuals) working toward a goal. Individuals give character to the team, but ultimately a team has to be unified to be effective.
- Teammates focus on each other, not themselves. It’s a common saying: “There is no ‘I’ in team.” Being a good teammate means ignoring what you want and what’s best for you and instead focusing on your team members and thinking about what’s best for them and for the team as a whole.
- Teammates love each other. Just because you’re on the same team doesn’t mean you always work well together. Sometimes your teammates will annoy you or frustrate you. But as a team, you have to love each other in spite of your differences and difficulties. And when you do that, you end up appreciating your team even more than before.
- Teammates need each other. The idea behind a team is that you’re not alone; you have people working alongside you. I’ve seen just how true this is as I’ve worked on the Council. Whether it’s planning a conference call or discussing a policy, we have to work together; we can’t do it alone!
- Teams are not exclusive. As the NSLC, we are given special responsibilities. But this doesn’t mean that we have to be our own exclusive club. In fact, part of being a team means reaching out to those not on your team. And that brings even more joy than only hanging out with “your team.”
Serving on the National Student Leader Council has taught me so much. I love my team and am so thankful for all of the lessons I’ve learned!