Authentic Leadership

Insights from The Weekly REBOOT

By: Evan Owens

In the past few blogs, we’ve been exploring the concept of authenticity. Authentic people are genuine—what you see is what you get. We’ve discussed the pitfalls of appearing one way but being another. We delved into the analogy of the fig tree and explored how plants may seem lush but turn out to be plastic. We also talked about the myths of healing and the markers of genuine healing.

Today, let’s conclude our Authentic series by focusing on leadership. 

Do you aspire to be a leader someday? 

If your initial response was “no, that’s okay. But I want you to know that I believe every one of us is called to be a leader. You have the potential and calling on your life to be a leader.

You might say, “I’m too wounded or not deep enough in my faith to be a leader.” Or you might think, “I used to want to be a leader, but after all I’ve experienced, I don’t think I have it in me anymore.” But I don’t believe that’s true.

In fact, did you know that one of our primary tenets among our staff and leaders at REBOOT is that every person is a leader from the week of their trauma healing course? Before you even turn the first page in your course Field Guide, we view you as a leader. But why?

1. It’s because authentic leadership is marked first and foremost by showing up.
Leaders are present.

Think about the many times in the Bible when someone didn’t feel like much of a leader, yet God promoted them into a pivotal position solely because they showed up and trusted Him.

  • Moses doubted his communication skills but showed up and led after surrendering to God’s plan.
  • Gideon sought signs but eventually led Israel after trusting God’s guidance.
  • Jeremiah felt too young but preached faithfully after trusting in God’s protection.

The list could go on. Numerous Bible leaders were reluctant, yet God saw something in them. More importantly, God knew that their faith or skill level wouldn’t make them great leaders; it was their willingness to show up and trust Him. It was actually out of their neediness, error, sin, and shortcomings that God found the usable materials to use them as leaders, not their own strength or plans.

Never underestimate the power of showing up. Consider your life. What good things happened because you showed up? What unexpected blessings do you have because you were present at the right place and time?

The first mark of authentic leadership is showing up and being present.

2. The second is finding a need and filling it.

In REBOOT groups, you can spot a leader by their natural tendency to lead. They set up chairs, clean up the room, or share something vulnerable when others hesitate. They lead from the front, recognizing and fulfilling needs others might avoid.

REBOOT didn’t emerge from an elaborate plan but from a genuine desire to help friends process trauma. Despite feeling poorly equipped, Jenny and I chose to show up, listen, and offer authentic friendship. This approach, rooted in genuine care, continues in REBOOT groups. The leaders, often without fancy mental health degrees, drive the initiative with love and a commitment to community needs, often built upon years of prior service.

Fun fact: REBOOT was our third ministry, following a worship ministry and one for those with brain injuries. The growth of REBOOT was gradual, with nearly five years spent leading a single location near Ft. Campbell. Consistently showing up, identifying needs, and addressing them became the cornerstone of our leadership.

Consider the needs around you—those in the lives of friends, family, or your community. Do you have the capacity to address these needs? Maybe leading a REBOOT group isn’t your immediate step, but could you dedicate time every Friday to pray for those around you or assist someone by fixing their car brakes? As you wear your Holy Spirit goggles, you’ll likely recognize more needs than you can address.

Over time, as Jenny and I faithfully served with what God had entrusted to us, the needs grew. Our challenge shifted to recognizing which needs we were called to fill and which to delegate. I remember Rahnella Adist telling me that spiritual leaders realize that “the need isn’t always the call.”

So, how do authentic leaders discern the call? Firstly, they acknowledge the existence of a call and seek God’s revelation. WARNING: This prayer can be risky. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up quitting your job to move outside of a military base as a civilian to lead a ministry to the military! Not that I know anyone to whom that’s happened!

3. Authentic leadership is marked by showing up, recognizing a need, filling it, and then asking God to either close that door or increase your opportunity to serve in that area. 

When we follow this formula, the result will be truly authentic leadership because it will be leadership bestowed upon us by God. We’ll be hitting the sweet spot of the bat with where we invest our time and energy. We’ll be serving in the way that we were built to serve. And that makes leadership far more enjoyable. Leading outside of your lane is possible, but it isn’t very sustainable.

It is only when we lead the way God is calling us to lead that we model biblical leadership.

Now, someone may ask, what is biblical leadership?

Biblical leadership is leading like Christ.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “You should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”

The only thing that really made Paul worthy of following was that he was a leader in a long line of leaders that leads to the Father. Like a giant conga line, we all dance to the rhythm and direction of the one in front. And the one in front should be God.

When we lead like Christ and follow other leaders who lead like Christ, we lead with humility, empathy, love, self-awareness, relational transparency, and consistency. Alternatively, when we lead from our own flesh, this is called transactional leadership. Transactional leaders see people as little more than tools to accomplish a goal. The value of people in an organization is reduced to their contribution to the leader’s goal.

And there is the power of the gospel. While we didn’t have anything to add to God’s bottom line, in fact, all we brought was debt, problems, pain, and hurt—yet—He sent His only son for us. This is a leader worth following.

God saw a need; He showed up by sending His son. He was present with us – He was Emmanuel. And He fulfilled the calling on His life even though it caused Him tremendous pain and loss. It was a role in the body of humanity that only He could fill. Thank God that He did.

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