Who or what do you lead? There are books, conferences, blogs, podcasts, and masterclasses on how to be a better leader, but we often forget that the person we lead first and most is the one in the mirror. It is easy to spend all of our time trying to figure out the next strategy to grow our organizations and ministries toward health and impact, mainly because that is how we are often measured and evaluated as a leader. Yet, if we never stop and evaluate how we are leading ourselves, and where we are spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, we will find ourselves burned out, self-absorbed, or even apathetic to the call God has entrusted us with.
Limits Are Not The Enemy
Every leader can feel the pressure of having to have all the solutions and strategies for their organization, but the reality is that you can not be all things to all people. Let me repeat that again, you can’t be all things to all people. God has given you an opportunity for stewardship, not saviorhood. Especially in ministry, we can find ourselves in a single day needing to be a counselor, boss, financial planner, and coach. There have been so many times when I thought to myself “This wasn’t taught in seminary.”
- Limits remind us that we can’t do it all and that we need others around us.
- Limits remind us that control is fleeting and faith is needed.
- Limits remind us that God is ultimately at the helm of our hopes, dreams, and fears.
- Limits are indicators for us to remember that we are only human, and in our weakness, His power breaks through.
Self-Awareness Is Your Friend
Every leader has a shadow. Just because we are sitting in a leadership position doesn’t mean that we don’t have hurts, fears, hopes, and aspirations. Some of us are cerebral, and others of us are deep feelers. The beautiful thing about it all is that God knows each and every part of us and wants to use those parts to not only show us more of who He is but to use them for His glory.
A few questions I try to sort through:
- Is there something I’m bringing from my past that is causing an overreaction?
- Do I have something I am trying to prove?
- What are my strengths in this situation? What are my weaknesses?
- Are my actions guided by love or fear?
- How has God gifted me and what lies am I being faced with?
The heart of self-awareness comes with a deep personal quiet time with the Lord. Through Bible reading, journaling, confession, and repentance, Jesus is walking you toward a more Christlike attitude and exposing where you need Him most, and how He has grown you, been faithful in the past, and will carry you in the days ahead.
Inside Out Leadership
“Jesus says what comes from the heart overflows out of the mouth.” Our thought processes lead to action. Our internal noise leads to words spoken. Our internal wrestle leads to diminished dreams or ignited passions. A big part of leading yourself is putting the challenges and tasks at hand into perspective and having the emotional intelligence and leadership capacity to work on yourself before looking outward.
- What is my attitude going into the situation?
- What criticisms am I allowing to take root in bitterness and offense?
- What relationships am I being transparent and vulnerable in to check for selfish motives or destructive behaviors? Am I hiding anything?
- What spiritual disciplines are lacking in my life?
Growth & Grace
Every leader is a learner and in process. There isn’t a time when we stop learning. People, circumstances, and challenges are always changing around us and there is always something new to learn about God, ourselves, and redemption around us. A leader that thinks they have it all figured out is no longer leading but coasting.
The most difficult conversations by far are the ones I have in the mirror and I have to remind myself the same grace that I hope to consistently remind others of, is the same grace extended to me each and every day. Grace reminds us that we are invited into a story not because of our abilities or achievements, but because of a merciful God who promises to use all things for His glory and our good. We are as Eugene Peterson says, walking out “a long obedience in the same direction.”
May His grace remind you of His delight and love over you and from that Truth you pour out for those you lead.
Check out our Know Yourself assessment personal assessment to help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses and how you can grow as a leader.