Sometimes I just hate leadership. The struggle to hear from God, work with people, and stay focused in the midst of pain and pressure, is a challenge. I have had days where the weight of pastoring has been all but crushing. Even with a great team of people. At The Road we have the most mature, skilled, loving, grace filled leadership team I have ever had the privilege to serve. Yet, as Harry Truman once said, “the buck stops here.” The cost of leadership never goes away.
I think the conundrum of leadership is that I’m so…well, so broken. I’m a fool. I’m confused. I’m sinful. I’m all those things, but I’m also healed. I’m a son of God, a warrior of the king, and a lover of Jesus. Martin Luther described me when he said, “we are saint and sinner.” Yes, I’m a courageous coward, sinful saint, selfish servant. A limping leader.
A leader—whether at home, at the office, in government, or at church—has authority in two ways: The positional power of the role and the character power of one’s heart. The real capital is in one’s character, how one lives. This is heart stuff. The heart carries the equity.
A leader is called to walk further than anyone else. He/she leads through the character of her heart. We can only take people as far as we have gone. We can never ask anyone to do something that we’re unwilling to do. We can never ask someone to be more honest, have more integrity, or be more humble than we’re willing to live.
But I fail miserably. As I grow in leadership I see more of my selfishness and pride. It’s a daily battle. I walk with a limp. I’m a limping hobbling athlete for God.
I must move forward. If I stop growing, my people stop growing. Maybe, just maybe that’s why we have a family, our first church, our first job. Our family and our work are constant reminders of our limp and our need for healing. They see it even when we don’t.
I’ve come to believe that the successful leader doesn’t trumpet his victories but names his failures—not becoming a failure junkie or inviting pity from others. Rather, one who knows that he can’t make it without Christ and His people. When we open the door to our people about our failures, we open up the hearts of others. We clear the air and allow the rest to see that this can be a safe place for honesty and healing dialogue.
Leading with a limp means we are inviting people into more than a boutique spirituality, slick style, middle-class politeness, and Mr Rogers Christianity. We are inviting our people into risk, honesty, and adventure.
On the Road,
The Road: www.theroadcs.org