Monday, February 7, 2011

A True Leader

I've been pondering on the subject of leadership the last several months. I thought it would be interesting to flesh out my thoughts here in a blog.
We've all been subjected to bad leadership in one shape or form at some point in our lives. It may have been a teacher, a parent, a pastor, a police officer or a boss...etc.. Hopefully we've all been honored and mentored with good leadership at some point too. If not, that is my prayer for us all! How can we model that which we haven't experienced?

When I stack up the attributes of the "bad" leaders in my life, with the attributes of the "good" leaders, I start to notice a pattern across the board. The "bad" leadership has one common denominator, and that is the use of control. It would take on many different forms. Sometime manipulation would be used, sometimes intimidation, and some would use their strong personality to try to conform me to look like them. The sad thing is, most of the time, these tactics worked and I gained approval instantly because of my desire to please the leader.

I never wanted to be the leader, but I did want the leader to be happy with me. I had more of a desire to be second in command though. lol
I see this in my life with the jobs I've had. Every time I've been offered a head management position, I've declined. I would go as far as assistant manager and then stop, quit, and start a job somewhere else. I never wanted to lead because I didn't like what happened to people when they got to be the big dog. Over and over again, I saw great people turn into control freaks when they would gain a title. Not just in the business arena, but in church, in worship bands, in cell groups. I really believed that the higher you got, the more terrible you had to become to get things done right. I believed that all the yuck went with the territory. I've since come to realize that's a lie. I'm learning what real leadership looks like and I'm excited about sharing. What if leadership looked like this:

What if leaders parked the furthest away from the building so the people they care for wouldn't have to get wet when it rained. What if leaders weren't so highlighted, or always on a stage and instead they highlighted people, they served people. What if leaders led by inspiring people to do their best instead of micro-managing them in what they've been instructed to do already. What if leaders weren't driven by fear, but were driven by love. What if they were so impassioned, they were contagious with knowledge. Here is a big one. WHAT IF THEY WERE DEVOID OF EGO, but graced with humility. At this point, it sounds like I'm describing a soup kitchen volunteer, I know. Here's the thing. I think a soup kitchen volunteer worker looks a whole lot more like Jesus then many "leaders" who have a title do. It's interesting to me that a common leader of our day is so hungry for approval and validation and the furthering of themselves, they forget what a leader is for.

A leader is to lead others into their destiny in some way shape or form. They are to call out excellence and help teach the stewardship of it. They are to revive with passion, truth, integrity and honesty when it's necessary. They are to allow uniqueness in personality and gifting, and nurture an atmosphere that encourages that variety. They are to lead by serving. They are to love those they lead, how else is it possible to lead them well. Sometimes I believe leading means addressing things too, but how great would it be to be addressed by someone who really loves you and wants the best for you.

If we reduce leaders to just being the people who tell people what to do, when and how to do it, then we might as well call them the "bossies". That is so much less than what a leader was meant for. We all need a leader, not a boss.

I posted on facebook this question and got a couple other definitions I'd like to share. I thought they were so good. I asked what a leader was?

"you see Jesus all on their face... you are attracted to them because of Him, they lead by example AND grace, they point you to Jesus, they love you for who you are, yet encourage you to achieve a higher potential, and even if they were not officially in that leader position, you would still think highly of them, look up to them."

I think a good leader reveals The Father and also His thoughts about you. Its about encouraging/providing an atmosphere where transformation can take place - where men and women can encounter their Heavenly Father and be transformed into sons and daughters."

I love these definitions. I love where the priority is. We all get to be leaders to someone, even if are sphere of influence stops at our children or a sibling, or friend.

People must know their value. A leader is someone who at all costs, drops it all, to go after the one who doesn't know as much, who doesn't understand how valuable they are. Jesus used the example of leaving the ninety-nine sheep to go get the one that was lost. It seems like we think there is a better way to lead. We burn bridges, cut people off, turn our backs, start again. We could only react this way if we valued ourselves more so than others. A leader prioritizes the joy of establishing value and purpose in those around them. They reach out to the ones who can't keep up, or trail behind and help them. They don't leave people in the dust.

I've seen people establish this kind of environment in an office and excel in business. I've been taught by a teacher who treated his classroom with this much honor and because of Mr Syme, I caught the passion to pursue writing. I worked for a woman who stopped everything to secretly put snow tires on my car so I would be safe in the North driving around. I have a dad who led his home with so much integrity and hunger for all that is good, he instilled something so true and beautiful in each of his children; something that can never be unwoven. I have a mother who till this day teaches me what it means to give it all away because of love, and her leadership in my life has caused a domino effect in the lives around me. My husband has shown me how beautiful humility looks like on a leader, and how integrity speaks so much louder than noisy talk. None of these people had a stage or a microphone, or a huge paycheck that drew my admiration. That's all fine too, but these people didn't these things and yet their impact on my life carried so much significance. Each of these people inspired me to grow, control was knocked out of the equation completely. What an honor to be led and have been led by these great leaders.

Leadership is amazing and it's impact is beyond one generation, but at least two or three. I've had bad leadership and I've had good, and I definitely know the difference. One point of contact with a good leader had the power to shift the direction of my life to positively impact so many others. Pray for your leaders and pray for this kind of leadership to raise up in every area of life. To start in the family, then flow into the church and businesses, to transform politics.

So I've changed my mind. I want to be a leader!