Recently I started reading a biography of New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. She is an incredible woman and I respect and admire her leadership.
There's nothing insightful to say that she's someone worth taking leadership lessons from. She is a great role-model for all people.
I don't want to talk about Ardern today. Instead, I want to shine a spotlight on the person who was instrumental in Ardern's ascension to Prime Minister. I didn't realise this until I started reading Ardern's biography (although this was not a secret at all!).
Just less than two months before the election, then Labour leader, Andrew Little, resigned to allow Ardern, who was the deputy-leader at the time, to take position as Labour's leader. The rest is history.
I don't really know who Andrew Little is and I don't have insider knowledge of Little's state of mind when he asked Ardern to step in as leader. Was he forced to? Did he really believe Ardern would help the party cross the finish line?
Knowing what I know about politics (which is very little), perhaps there's a mixture of both. But what he did was incredible and I think his actions are worth emulating.
A leader who steps aside for others to step up
It's not common to see leaders in high positional power give up their status willingly for someone to take their place.
He had so much to lose, yet he gave it up anyway - not to mention he gave it up to a woman. In a patriarchal society we're still living in, I think it speaks volume when a man steps back and openly affirms a woman to rise up in power.
I wonder where else have we seen leaders step aside to let others step in to take their place. Of course, the condition is that they see themselves no longer being able to exert influence and create positive change for the good of the organisation.
A leader who puts the Party first
I think the problem with many men and women in leadership is that as we rise in power, we become more focused on protecting ourselves rather than the organisation we've set out to help bring positive change in the first place.
I think Little had the Party's interest at heart. If he cared about himself more, he wouldn't have conceded his place to Ardern. He would've fought to the end - even if it meant losing the election.
What kind of leader would you be?
I'm still young and inexperienced, but one day, when I'm much older and wiser, and if the Lord puts me in a place of a higher leadership position, I hope that, like Little, I'd be able to recognise when I need to step aside for others to step up so that God's church will continue to thrive.
It doesn't necessarily have to be stepping down for a leadership position. It could be as simple as giving up the desire to take control of everything. It could be trusting others' ideas and being more open to their opinions and perspectives. It could even be doing less of something so that others get a chance to do a bit more of.
Before Andrew Little was Jesus
Little took a page out of Jesus' leadership manual. Jesus entrusted his disciples to continue the mission of God. He entrusted us with his Word and to take the Gospel and his love to the ends of the earth.
Jesus stepped aside for us to exercise our gifts to expand God's Kingdom. Jesus is still active and works in our lives, but he empowers us to try, and fail, and keep trying to be a part of his mission.
Jesus also puts God's Kingdom first. He died willingly so that we can receive God's forgiveness and enter into God's Kingdom.
May we become leaders who care less of ourselves and more on others.
Rachel is the children and youth pastor at Northern Life Baptist Church in Sydney. She loves volleyball, reading and a good TV drama! She has recently finished studying a Master of Divinity at Morling College and she’s continuing further studies towards another Masters.