Be a Leader of Yourself First (The Brother’s Keeper #59)


Dear Y.B.M.,

In my first series of letters, I strongly encouraged you to “think for yourself.” Today, as we begin this second section in Even Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men, “On Character & Leadership,” I want to strongly encourage you to be a leader but be a leader of yourself first.

That terminology might sound odd at first, but bear with me. I believe that more young black men should be leaders. You may not have any followers right now, but, under God and with God’s blessings, you ought to be a person who thinks for himself and follows his own mind based upon God’s will and God’s Word regarding the direction of your life.

This world has too many followers and too many people looking for someone to take them by the hand and show them the way — all of the way. I stopped following people long ago when I realized that Jesus is the only Leader I need. Most importantly, He is the only Leader who will never let you down. And, because I follow Christ alone, He has blessed me with the privilege of being a leader to others.

The Apostle Paul rebuked some folk for creating factions in the church because they were obsessed with which human leader they were following (including him). Some were saying, “I follow Paul.” Others said, “I follow Apollos.” And others said, “I follow Cephas.” But Paul said, ‘I thank God I have not baptized any of you. I’m not following anybody but Jesus.’ And because he was following Jesus alone, he was bold enough to tell people, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

I want you to be able to say the same thing. Get your life in order under the direction and headship of God through Jesus Christ and you will be ready to be a leader in your own right for the glory of God and for the benefit of many others. Now, this does not mean that you can’t listen to advice from others who are older and wiser. I have a small circle of pastors and leaders who are twenty to thirty years older than me from whom I learn and seek advice. And, thanks to God, these guys have been with for some twenty to thirty years. I listen to their counsel, but I make my own decisions, I take responsibility for those decisions, and I accept the consequences of those decisions be they good or bad. I encourage you to do the same.

There are many different types of leaders. Some are loud and bombastic; others are quiet and contemplative. Don’t be concerned about style. People recognize great, positive leadership when they see it. If you start taking the lead in your own life now, and start leading yourself first, you will be prepared to be a leader, a mentor, a guide, and a role model in your family, in your community, in your church, and in the world.. One day, you may look up and find that people are actually following you as you follow Christ.

Love well. Lead well.

Daniel Whyte III

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Tony Evans said, “A kingdom man may be defined as a man who positions himself and operates according to the comprehensive rule of God over every area of his life. And every area of life should feel the impact of a kingdom man’s presence.”

John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Tony Dungy said, “The secret to success is good leadership, and good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members or workers better.”

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a railroad maintenance gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

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