I started as a reluctant leader. Beginning in high school, I would embrace leadership roles with a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I wasn’t old enough or smart enough or skilled enough to lead. But I was challenged to push through that, not to compare myself with others, and follow God’s call on my life.
That call has been challenging at times. There’s a quote that says God will never give you more than you can handle. I don’t think that holds Biblical water. If you look at people in scripture, God gave them things to do that were way above their abilities and way above their competency. The difference-maker was him. That’s true for me as well.
The call on my life for the past five years has been to strategically invest in leaders so they can move God’s purposes and priorities forward in the world. As President of Arrow Leadership, I walk alongside Christian leaders from the church, parachurch, non-profit and marketplace world.
Being involved in the lives of these incredible men and women is humbling. I am constantly learning and developing, and I’m sure I’ve got a highlight reel of mistakes that would make me curl up into a ball if I were to watch it. We all do. Learning from them is how we grow.
Here are three specific themes that have kept me from being effective in leadership:
Not fully trusting God.
As a result of not trusting God to come through, I can let fear take hold. With fear comes indecision. We may neglect the things we need to do to move forward, or take shortcuts that don’t yield the same results. As a leader, getting stuck in fear can be disastrous.
Having too small a vision of God.
AW Tozer says that the most important thing about us is what comes into our minds when we think about God. We all have distortions of who God is. We want to root out those distortions and come to a clearer, fuller picture of who God is, and never minimize his capacity to work in and through us.
Not leaning into team.
We can often think that our success is all about what we do. But by neglecting to work with others, I not only carry too much weight, I fail to help those team members grow and develop. I’ve held back the goals and cause we were moving toward by simply trying to do it all myself.
In all of these mistakes, humility is critical for our own development. We need to be learners, open to feedback from others. We need to look at where we’ve made mistakes and ask, “What’s holding me back?” Sometimes that’s a skill, sometimes that’s lack of self-awareness, or maybe it’s something spiritual that’s holding us back.
The Ultimate Example of Leadership
Jesus himself expressed the ultimate humility. He took on the very nature of a servant, and in his vulnerability, allowed those around him to make mistakes and grow – to be human. We give others permission to be real with us when we are honest about our shortcomings. Honesty helps us to keep moving forward, because we’re learning as we go.
Psalm 78:72 says that King David shepherded the people of Israel with integrity of heart and skillful hands. King David knew his shortcomings, and allowed himself to be shaped by God’s direction.
This is the kind of Christ-centred leader who is so critical to moving Christian organizations forward. What matters isn’t so much our flaws – it’s having a God who can transform us and use us despite them.