Real leaders are rarely elected to any office. They occasionally get awards or medals, but if they do, they don’t care about them. Sometimes they get disciplined, fired, arrested, or court-marshaled for doing the right thing. But, they are the real leaders and you know them when you see them.
So, here’s my list of ten leaders not in the White House:
- Andy Andrews – Homeless in his early twenties after both his parents died when he was 19, Andy has become a best-selling author and highly sought-after speaker. He’s been called a modern-day Will Rogers that is quietly changing America. Four different US Presidents have invited him to speak at the White House. His books are used by schools, business leaders, and professional sports teams. Why? He teaches simple principles, from a unique perspective, that produce success when applied.
- John Maxwell – John Maxwell is, simply put, a leader of leaders. He has written a thousand books on leadership (ok, a few less) and he trains leaders all over the world.
- Tyrone Woods – Tyrone was the Navy SEAL in Benghazi who disobeyed orders and risked (and ultimately, gave) his life to protect the Americans at the embassy. “Greater love has no one than this…”
- Franklin Graham – Continuing his father’s ministry with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Franklin also founded Samaritan’s Purse, helping the poor throughout the world. He is one of the few Americans to go into North Korea to bring aid to the people as their economy collapsed. His ministry exists to help the poor and the persecuted in places like Sudan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, and around the world.
- Beth Moore – You’d be hard-pressed to find a church in America that doesn’t have at least one small group studying a book by Beth Moore. Millions of women (and probably a few men, too) around the world benefit from her writing, speaking, and teaching.
- Dave Ramsey – Dave Ramsey is, almost single-handedly, changing the financial futures of millions of Americans and others throughout the world with his Financial Peace programs. Not content to stop there, Dave has recently begun putting his stamp on the business world with his wildly successful EntreLeadership events, book, and podcast.
- Michael Hyatt – The former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt is an author, speaker, and leader of leaders. He hosts one of the more popular blogs on the internet, is a best-selling author, and a dedicated family man.
- John Eldredge – Quietly leading men to recover their hearts, John Eldredge’s Wild At Heart Bootcamps are booked years in advance. His influence is felt far and wide through his books, events, and podcast.
- Bethany Hamilton – Bethany is the young surfer whose faith and determination have inspired millions around the world through her book, Soul Surfer, and the movie of the same name inspired by her story. http://soulsurfer.com/
- Tim Tebow – As Tebow-mania calms down from its peak last year, Tim Tebow continues to lead, on and off the football field. The epitome of grace under pressure, he has handled a meteoric rise to fame and the nearly instantaneous attacks from those who would tear him down. Through it all, he continues to inspire people with his faith and his classy attitude.
I know these aren’t the only leaders out there – far from it. Many of the leaders I respect the most are people you probably haven’t heard of. They are the dads who keep pounding the pavement to try to find work so they can put food on the table for their kids; the homeschooling moms who, with CEO efficiency, juggle the responsibilities of managing a home and teaching the next generation of leaders; the pastor who ministers to the sick and dying, preaches to the faithful, fixes the boiler in the church basement, manages an unreliable staff, and listens to the nitpicking of the congregation tearing apart his sermon every week. They are the older brothers and sisters learning to lead their younger siblings, the grandparents raising children for their children; and the small business owners trying to reach their dreams. Those are the real leaders, to me.
Who are the leaders that inspire you?