How to Make Your Mark as a Leader


It is currently fashionable to say, "Make a dent in the universe."[1] However, I can't think of anything more confusing to a leader than to know how to do that. Second in degree of difficulty is connecting one's effort to results. Is a leader required to be exhausted at all times? One of the late Steve Jobs' primary characteristics was exhaustion; his creative entourage also seemed to sleep very little. Is that what is required to make a dent in the world? Is working day and night the only way to be a powerful person?

The Apostle Paul worked hard to present every disciple mature in Christ. He considered himself a steward, presenting his work to God. He worked hard but in sync with God, "depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me."[2] Paul considered his work challenging: "Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives."[3] However, what made his work difficult was not the hours, but its nature. Leadership is emotionally exhausting; the heart takes a beating. Recently a judge working in leadership in his church told me, "None of this stuff is very hard until you add real people to the mix. It was so easy when we had only the enthused, the faithful, and the hungry few gathered around us. Now as we stretch to reach a larger circle—people who are a little less enthused, a little less faithful, a little less hungry—it is more challenging."[4] I couldn't agree more.

Everyone makes an impression, regardless of his or her intention. At times the impression we make is the opposite of the one we want to make. For instance, a man on a job interview tries to be the person the company wants to hire and goes overboard. It is obvious to the interviewer that the résumé is puffed and the applicant is trying too hard. Instead of leaving the impression of competence, the man leaves one of dishonesty and desperation. Better for him to have not worked at making an impression, but to have allowed who he is to create an impression.

Think of it this way: If you have shaken hands with a bricklayer, you may have winced from the power of the grip. Bricklayers' strong hands are a by-product of the work they do. They don't start out to have strong hands; it comes with the profession. Similarly, leaders aren't strong because we are trying to be strong; we are strong because of other inherent characteristics, such as kindness, patience, perseverance, self-control, and great faith or courage. 

Continue reading this blog in the coming weeks for more on how to make your mark as a leader!


  1. Mostly attributed to Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple. See Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2011), 94.
  2. Colossians 1:29.
  3. Galatians 4:19.
  4. Letter to author from a friend. Used with permission.

Written by Bill Hull

Taken from The Christian Leader by Bill Hull. Copyright © 2016 by Robert W. Hull. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash