I have been interested in the subject of leadership for quite some time. Leadership is something that many aspire to, and the idea seemingly divides the world into two categories, leaders and followers. I am not so sure that is the way it works. Everyone has to exhibit leadership qualities and skills to some degree. Even if you never think of yourself as being a leader. If you are a parent you are a leader. If you are employed, there is some aspect of leadership associated with your job. Again remember we should all be leading ourselves.
I was visiting with someone recently and the subject of leadership was broached. On the surface leadership seems rather glamourous. Yet, there is a price to be paid. I mentioned to this person that sooner or later a leader will disappoint people. Let me make it more emphatic, given an ample amount of time a leader will disappoint almost everyone! It is one of the major stumbling blocks in regard to leadership. If you have a deep need to be liked you are headed for a collision. As a matter of fact if you are leader you have to be willing to live with the fact that not everyone will like you! In fact some will be so upset that they will take “a strong dislike” to you. I explained two situations, but could have mentioned several more. There are people who used to consider me a friend who will not speak to me today! I am not talking about acquaintances, I am talking former friends. You see I made a decision that they did not agree with and I got written off, unfriended! In one case I am talking about folks who on a vacation stayed with us, who would not come anywhere near where I am today. The other is a family Susanne and I provided their “Thanksgiving Dinner” several years ago who are still angry over a decision made years ago.
You see one of the drawbacks to leadership is the relational pain that is a part of the package. I love people, but I have had to learn that if you make certain decisions there will be push back. I am not talking controversial decisions or hey gang let’s all go jump off a cliff kind of decisions, I mean just generic run of the mill everyday decisions. I believe this is all directly tied in to why nothing much gets done in church today. Most cannot stand the trauma of having people get mad at them. Let me be the bearer of bad news: there is no way around it.
Leadership is not just about problems and decisions: it is a relational exercise that requires information and empathy and patience and resolve. Leadership means pointing the direction that we must go and having the resolve to follow-through.One of the prerequistes in my opinion to being a good leader is to embrace our brokenness so we can have empathy for the broken people all around us. We live in a culture in which brokenness is not celebrated. Yet Jesus calls us to brokenness, not performance; to relationships, not commotion; to grace, not get-even. It is no wonder that this kind of leadership is neither spoken of in our business schools or seminaries. Too much focus of leadership is on success which seems to be associated with people cheering and the band playing. If you want to be a leader there are wonderful perks, but there is a price to be paid. You must know who God is and who you are, and you must have a vison from Him. When you know these three things then the hurt and heartache, while still not pleasant are a part of a larger picture of God’s grace and call on your life
I love God
I love people
I love leading
I have also had to embrace pain! But God’s grace is more than sufficient.