Why It’s Ok for Leaders Not to Know It All

Ahira Perez-Santelices

January 28, 2021

Imagine that you are having an election for class officers. Who will you nominate as class president? Or maybe you were assigned to do a group project. Who will you appoint as the group leader?

You scan the room. A few moments of awkward silence, a few murmurs, and then we spot our candidate.

We vote for the seemingly bold, intelligent, and capable one. (Except for those times when we make fun of our friends! Haha.) We want someone who commands respect and people follow. We want someone who is secure and stable.

When we think about leadership, we often think that a leader must always be strong-willed, firm in their beliefs, immovable, and unshakable. Although these traits are actually good leadership qualities, these expectations also tend to make some of us feel unqualified to lead. 

The truth is that it is almost impossible for us to always be sure, secure, confident, and stable as human beings. 

Whether you are leading a group project, a small discipleship group, a whole classroom, an organization, or just one person, let’s rethink what it means to be a secure and stable leader. 

Here are some misconceptions about being a leader:

1. Myth: A leader must be someone who knows it all.

As leaders, it’s good that we desire to know a lot. But being a leader doesn’t mean you must know all the answers to everything. It’s okay if you haven’t figured it all out. When someone in your group asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, you may comfortably and humbly say that you don’t know, but will try to know the answer. 

A secure leader is humble enough to admit that he doesn’t know everything but is also hungry enough to be willing to know and seek for answers, whether by personal study or with the help of a mentor.

2. Myth: A leader must be someone who can do everything.

A leader can do many things but he cannot do everything. While it is true that there are exceptional individuals who have great capacities, they are still limited and susceptible to commit mistakes. 

Real talk: Hindi pwede na ikaw lang ang bumubuhat. We have people around us who can help. We have to enable them and help them perform their tasks and roles, too. Secure and stable leaders know when to ask for help. 

3. Myth: A leader must always be better than others.

We can’t always be the best. There will always be someone better than us. And when someone in our group is better than us, how do we respond? 

Do we feel less significant? Do we feel threatened? Do we feel insecure? 

When we feel any of these, we need to reflect and search our hearts as to where we draw security from. The purpose of leading is not to be better than others, but to help others become better.

When we are secure in our leadership role, we will celebrate the giftings and uniqueness of those around us. We will be excited to work with them and use our leadership to discover and hone their potentials. 

4. Myth: A leader must never fall short.

We are not always at our strongest. We get tired and frustrated. We fall short. There are days when we really feel good about ourselves, but there are also days when we feel weak and unqualified. But our call to leadership is not dependent on how we feel.

The true measure of a leader’s stability is not whether he or she never falls short, but how he or she responds to shortcomings. 

Secure and stable leaders have a clear understanding of God’s calling and purpose for their lives. They are not compelled by sheer will, but by knowing that there is a purpose greater than themselves. 

While the world points us to a leader’s skills and abilities whenever we want to look for security and stability, the truth is real security is a result of complete reliance on the irrevocable and unchanging purpose of God in our lives.  

Whenever we face adversity, we go back to our calling and purpose—why we do what we do. And because He was the one who called us for a specific purpose, He will be the one to sustain us with grace, wisdom, and the skills we need to accomplish the task.

When leading becomes difficult, when quitting seems the better option, and when we see our lack more than our capabilities, we can come to the source of real security and stability—God. Let us rely on His love and grace that enables us to grow and be better leaders. 

Go and lead others! May your leadership be marked with grace, confidence, compassion, and kindness.

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The Author

Ahira Perez-Santelices

Ahira works for the ENC Philippine Office. She loves planning, getting into details, being lost in thoughts, and pondering different ideas. She’s definitely an introvert, but is surprisingly highly sociable. "Come chat with me. I'll be tired later, but it's okay. I enjoy talking about life, work, and Jesus. Just note that I prefer milk tea over coffee.”

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