Lead with a Limp
- Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Leaders who follow conventional wisdom equate personal strength with effectiveness. But striving for power and control never leads to true success. The leaders God blesses with real strength are those who first acknowledge their weaknesses, and then rely on Him to accomplish more than they ever could on their own.
Paradoxically, you can be a better leader if you limp than if you try to run. Your struggles aren’t obstacles to overcome on the way to leadership; they’re invitations for God to transform you. Here’s how you can turn your struggles into strengths as a leader:
* Stop hiding. Understand that hiding your failures prevents you from receiving the grace you need to lead well. So embrace your brokenness and let go of futile efforts to control your own life. Ask God to give you the courage to name and face your fears. Realize that complexity is an inevitable part of life, so let go of dogmatism and attempts at simplistic solutions, and embrace creativity. Don’t isolate yourself from others or turn to addictions to fill voids in your life. Instead, pursue authentic relationships with God and others, knowing that this is the only way to true fulfillment. Expect others to be more open to what you have to say if they see that you’re being real with them. Recognize that your weaknesses aren’t burdens to be avoided, but opportunities to grow in character to become the leader God wants you to be. Trust God to use the messes in your life to transform you – and those you lead.
* Be a reluctant leader. Don’t be easily seduced by power, pride, or ambition. Know that true leaders don’t aspire to power for the power itself, but simply to use power as a means to serve God well. Ask God to give you the humility of a reluctant leader who nevertheless chooses to serve Him. Surrender your own agenda if you struggle with ambition; be honest about your doubts if you struggle with insecurity. Make God – and nothing or no one else – your confidence. Think about how awestruck and grateful you should be to be called to leadership, and rely on God’s strength to help you fulfill that call. Make it a goal to share power fairly and empower others who serve alongside you.
* Recognize the purpose of leadership. Understand that the aim of leadership isn’t to run an organization, meet needs, or even to do good deeds. Rather, the purpose of leadership is to form character in people. Shift your focus from what you do to how you do what you do. Ask God to help you model a life of integrity to those you lead. Understand that your own character will mature to the degree that you love God and others. Ask God to fill your heart with awe and gratitude. Invite God to mature your character – and that of those you lead – as you explore new directions, share open dialogue, discern God’s vision, and make confident decisions together.
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