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Sets and Reps: the Forging of a Leader

by Nathan Elliot



The character qualities and competencies of a leader are developed over a lifetime. The sets and reps of situation, success, failure, and the like continually provide opportunity for progress and development. This idea is not foreign to the sacred or secular world. With the formation of muscles, bodybuilders to weekend walkers physically exert their muscles in a variety of ways where the fibers tear and are rebuilt stronger and bigger through proper rest and nutrition. The formation of a Biblical worldview is built upon time in the Bible, prayer, worship, and fellowship and over a season Biblical thought and character is developed and employed.


Paul uses fitness analogies on occasion to emphasize his teaching through appealing to what we are familiar with. He appeals to self control and discipline when he states, “so I do not run like who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” And, “also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” Paul references a strict exercise and nutrition schedule that ancient athletes submitted themselves to compete for a crown. The struggle and stress of repetition through daily sets of fitness, food, and competition were what qualified and enabled the athlete to compete for the overarching crown. 


Battles are won through repeated drills of simple tasks. The army uses a combination of individual straightforward tasks that are combined to form battle drills. The success of individual, squad, platoon, and company level tasks all boil down to the repeated sets every year of the same things. Why? Because habits are formed during sets and reps and when all hell breaks loose you act out of instinct. Instinct that was forged through repeated training of the simple. Over time, forming habits that enable the Soldier to act in situations without every single decision being a conscious one.


We are creatures of habit. It’s seen from where we park at work, sit in our pews, waste time, treat others, and the list goes on. Our minds try to make habits of everything we think and do. In light of this, we must ask ourselves if our daily sets and reps in the mundane contribute to our goals, our vision, our future. I would say they do. Every single moment presents an opportunity. Our relationships, our abilities, our character is forged in the crucible of daily sets and reps that are repeated, changed, improved, and strengthened.


There is no magic pill, special book, or seminar that overnight makes you a better leader. Better leaders are developed in their training of ordinary situations. The people we live, work, and play with are repeating opportunities of influence. Leadership is not automatic even if you hold a title or position. The power of the position will only get you so far but authority is earned and then given by those in your sphere of influence. The earning happens as people see the repeated habits of character and competency that over time builds trust. David, a prime Biblical example, spent years running from Saul while God continuously used situations as leadership training before he was given the task as King.


As wise men once said, we've got to get our boots muddy. Its in the mundane tasks of life that leaders are made. Individuals faithfully living out their testimony as God has called in vocation. Leadership is influence. Influence has an effect. Repeated influence creates culture.


So you want to be a leader? I would say you already are. Your influence up, down, and laterally happens daily.


You're not the leader you want to be? Today is the day to put some reps and sets in that shape your culture and environment. 

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