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When Did You Realize You Had Leadership Gifts?


When people talk with me, it does not take long for them to realize I feel passionate about leadership. They often ask me, “When did you first realize you had leadership gifts?”

In high school I was part of an Explorer Scout group led by Coach Brown, a basketball coach who loved young people. He started this group for youth who wanted something to do on the weekend besides drink and do drugs.

I watched as Coach Brown took a bunch of adolescents and built a strong group. He raised up student leaders to lead the group. I happened to be one of them. I had never had someone see me as a leader before.

I learned from Coach Brown that both boys and girls could lead. This group was a co-ed scouting group – one of the first – and both boys and girls served on the leadership council. That pioneering vision helped keep me going over the years. I was so excited two years ago when I was ordained as a priest, and I love to serve alongside other men and women leaders at Church of the Savior.

I also learned that a leader needs to know the gifts of other leaders and put them in positions where they can succeed. Coach Brown saw my administration and put me in charge of a dinner banquet for 250 people. When I look back know, I wonder, “What was he thinking?!” But Coach knew I could do it, and when I did, it built my confidence.

From those early experiences, I became hungry to learn how to grow in my leadership. I spent years attending the Global Leadership Summit and meeting with leadership coaches. For several years I met with a group of women executive pastors. I constantly read leadership books – right now, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

I believe that if we do not have healthy leaders, we will not have healthy churches and organizations. That is why I dedicate my life now to coaching leaders, through my practice ( and as leader of Church of the Savior’s staff. I love coaching leaders, meeting with them individually and watching their leadership grow. I would not want to spend my life doing anything else.

Karen Miller is associate rector of Church of the Savior in Wheaton, Illinois. She is a leadership coach and founder of

© 2019 Karen L. Miller

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