Leadership and Opportunity

by Andy Wood on May 9, 2012

in Executing Your Plan, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase


Over here.

I have something you need to see.

I’m not showing it to anybody else yet because I wanted you to be the first to take advantage of it.  But next week it goes public.  And this won’t be a secret for very long.  This is a once-in-a lifetime…

(wait for it…)

…yeah, that.

Opportunity.  It’s an often-used, sometimes over-used concept.  Americans throw it around as if we own the copyright to the term.  You can see and hear it everywhere…

Opportunity meeting.

Opportunities wasted.

Opportunity of a lifetime (followed by another one next month).

Land of opportunity.

Despite our temptation to take a cynical cliché bath, however, there is a reason the word forms such an important part of our lives.  It’s in the face of opportunity that industries are created, life-changing decisions are made, and culture-shaping movements are started.

It’s in the face of opportunity that leaders often arise.

Jesus, the greatest leader of all time demonstrated this.  But you don’t find the word “opportunity” in the gospels.  The gospel of John uses another term – “the hour.”

Before Jesus turned water into wine, his mother approached him with an itsy bitsy problem – a week-long wedding feast had just run out of wine.  Bad form in that culture – really embarrassing to the host.  Jesus’ reply at that point:

“My hour has not yet come.”

Although He did turn the water into wine, keeping the bridesmaids buzzed or the guests entertained wasn’t the opportunity that defined Him.

Later, John records that “the hour” – the opportunity – did arrive, and you know what Jesus did? He cleaned the street from His disciples’ feet. Then proceeded to give His life to conquer sin and the grave.

What Opportunity is Made Of

In the crucible of opportunity, every leader’s decision is magnified in importance.  These opportunities are formed when three factors converge:

1.  Urgency – a situation requiring something to be done soon.

2.  Crisis – a time of intense difficulty, trouble or risk.

3.  Potential – increased receptivity to, and possibility of, dramatic favorable change.

This was the situation Jesus knew himself to be when he washed the disciples’ feet. It’s also the situation many great leaders have confronted, out of which their leadership emerged.

All three factors are important, and that’s why the term gets watered down.  Somebody wants to talk to you about an “awesome opportunity.”  And sure, maybe the potential is there.  But there is no sense of urgency or crisis, therefore the “opportunity” isn’t calling for decisive action or courage.  Translation:  It may be a nice idea, but hardly an “opportunity of a lifetime.”

What Leaders are Made Of in Times of Opportunity

So when these forces – urgency, crisis, and potential – converge, what do leaders do?  What distinguishes them from followers?

1.  Vision.

Leaders are alert to what’s happening.  They see what others can’t or won’t.  They see what is happening, what could happen, and what will happen if they don’t take action.

2.  Decisiveness.

Leaders aren’t afraid to make a decision – even when it’s unorthodox, unprecedented, or in the moment unsupported.  They act on their vision, even when the intelligentsia or the conventional thinkers call them crazy.

3.  Servanthood.

You read that right.  Leaders, in the face of opportunity, forge new ways to serve.  They serve the public.  They serve the planet.  They serve their employees or family or friends.  In fact, they serve everyone else first, and save themselves for last.  Show me somebody with a title or position who uses it to serve himself first, I’ll show you somebody who’s an opportunist – but no leader.

4.  Mobilization.

This is what distinguishes leaders from pioneers or tinkerers.  Leaders not only serve the needs in front of them, they mobilize their followers to do the same.  That foot-washing episode I mentioned earlier?  Yes, it was an act of servanthood, but that’s only half the story.  It was also a phenomenal act of leadership.  It only happened once, but that’s all it took.  Through washing their feet, Jesus began the process of unleashing army of spiritual leaders who changed the world.


Crisis, urgency, and remarkable potential always present moments of truth that can change people, leaders included. Are you willing to look beyond what others see?  Are you willing to take action while everyone else sleeps?  Are you willing to serve when others wish to be served?  Are you willing to gather a tribe, an army, a team to multiply your efforts?

That’s what leaders do when opportunities show up.

And your opportunity may be just around the corner.

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