This week Noah and Bjorn spoke with Dan Webster. Dan is a faith-based motivational speaker, leadership developer, and author.
During his over 30 years of experience, Dan has worked with CEOs, executives, teachers, youth workers, pastors, leaders of non-profit organizations, and people from all walks of life.
Growing up in southern California, Dan played basketball for his high school team as a junior and senior. He then played in college at Cypress College, where he was teammates with former NBA center Swen Nater.
Is Leadership Something You’re Born with or Can It Be Developed Over Time?
“There are some people who are truly spiritually gifted with the gift of leadership … but leadership is absolutely able to be developed”--Dan Webster
Dan believes that the answer to this question depends on how you define leadership. However, he believes there is truth at both ends.
For one, Dan talks about specific passages in the Bible that discuss leadership and point to it as a gift someone has. One such area of the Bible that discusses this is Romans Chapter 12.
In the episode Dan also talks about other passages in the Bible that point to leadership being a gift that someone is born with.
However, Dan points out that he thinks leadership can also be developed.
On the podcast Dan talks about an experience he went through in his own life that caused him to further develop leadership. When he began this experience, Dan says that he didn’t go into it thinking of himself as a leader.
However, as he saw his leadership grow, the amount of people whose lives he was impacting also continued to grow until he was leading a seemingly countless number of people.
Furthermore, Dan feels that we can all be leaders in our own way. You don’t have to have influence over a large group of people or have a big platform to be a leader.
Dan says that we can all be leaders by living our life in a way that reflects what we believe and displays the truth and love of God.
How Does Dan Stay Humble in his Leadership and Point to God?
“Over and over again Jesus is confronting the disease of ‘me’ in the disciples”--Dan Webster
Dan talks about two factors that help him keep his head on straight and his priorities correct.
The first is a traumatic experience that Dan went through as a kid. On the podcast Dan talks about the initial event, the aftermath of it, and the effect it had on his life.
As a result of this event, Dan was left feeling insecure and isolated throughout a period of time in middle school and high school. To this day, he says that he still holds insecurity and struggles with this experience.
Dan says that this lingering insecurity is one of the things that keeps him humble.
However, Dan says that the more significant reason that he stays humble is his study of Jesus.
One particular quote from Jesus that comes from the Book of Luke sticks with Dan: “I am among you as one who serves”.
Dan talks about how much this statement means to him and how it goes along with acts that Jesus carried out throughout his life, such as washing his disciples’ feet or cooking them breakfast after his resurrection.
Despite Jesus being the ultimate leader, he still showed a willingness to serve others.
Dan talks about how he has worked with a lot of leaders that get messed up in their thinking and lose their way. They develop a sense of entitlement and teach things that they think apply to everyone else besides them.
In the episode Dan talks about how he strives to make sure this is something that he never falls victim to. When he sees that Jesus was a humble leader, he knows that he too needs to be a humble leader and point to God with what he does.
What is God Teaching You?
There’s a lot to learn from the discussion that Dan had with Noah and Bjorn.
God gives each and every one of us unique gifts and talents, and one of these talents that we are blessed with could be leadership. In fact, the Bible even says that leadership can be a natural gift from God.
If we are blessed with this gift, it is our responsibility to use it to shine light on God and glorify Him.
However, leadership is also something that can be developed.
We develop new skills in our sports all the time. Maybe we play basketball and we’re skilled at playing defense and rebounding, but your shooting could use some work. A natural thing to do would be putting ourselves in situations and drills where we can work on your shooting so that it improves.
Just like we can develop new skills in a sport, we can also develop leadership if we put ourselves in situations that require it and practice leading. As our leadership continues to develop, we will be able to see the impact we are having on people around us.
If we feel that our calling from God is to lead people but are feeling hesitant because we feel like we don’t possess the natural gift of leadership, we shouldn’t let this hold us back. Instead, we should work to develop these skills so that we can accomplish God’s calling for us.
However, maybe as a basketball player our role isn’t to shoot and as a Christian our calling isn’t to be a leader. This is okay. Just as not every player on a basketball team can only focus on shooting, not every Christian can be a leader.
If God didn’t call us to be a leader, we should focus instead on developing and mastering the skills and gifts he did give us so that we can accomplish what his unique calling is for us.
If we are in a position of leadership, it can be hard to keep the focus on God and not feel like we are the reason for our success or feel like we are above our own teaching.
Dan’s discussion of Jesus serving those around him despite being the ultimate leader connects with a discussion with Darrin Gray from episode 36 about being a serving leader.
As a leader it isn’t our job to lead others and then sit back and expect them to serve both us and those around them. Instead, it is our job to be a humble leader.
In addition to leading, we should be serving. This not only shows others that we care, but also allows others the room to be leaders themselves.
It also glorifies God, as this is the example he set forth for us to follow. By being a humble leader, pointing to God, and being a serving leader, we can glorify God through our leadership.
Has God called you to be a leader? If so, are you working to develop those skills?
Are you developing the skills that God has given you to accomplish His calling for you?
Are you pointing to God and remaining humble through your leadership? Are you a serving leader?
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
1 Peter 5:2-4
To hear the discussion that Dan had with Noah and Bjorn about leadership and the sailboat metaphor for it, why pain is the best teacher, what advice he would give to someone trying to find their way in life, his experience playing against college basketball coaching legend John Wooden and college and NBA legend Bill Walton, and much more, check out “The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” episode 39.