I knew I was in trouble when our first child skipped the crawling stage and arrived immediately at walking. She engaged in a hybrid scoot and roll before walking, but she did not want to crawl. She inherited my genes, at least a few anyway. I knew I was in trouble because this was a small glimpse into the mentality of my life. If I see a process in front of me, I am quickly strategizing a way to detour the process and arrive at the destination. By God’s hand, today I value the process of growth above the point of future arrival.
I often hear from people that they desire to lead. Sometimes the expressed desire is to lead behind the scenes, while other times the desire is to lead in a very prominent and visible capacity. Most often in my interactions the desire is to lead within the church. There are the conversations that also circulate around a desire to lead in the work place. Almost every time it is the first step that creates a stumble which inevitably leads to a face plant and then to discouragement and despair.
The first step of leadership is to lead yourself. When we do not lead ourselves well, we do not establish trust in those we desire to lead. Leadership demands trust. Hypocrisy will eventually find any leader in a damaging place. When we do not lead ourselves well, we do not have anything to offer those we desire to lead. Our personal inflow and growth fuels our leadership. The absence of inflow stagnates our leadership.
Here are 5 ways to lead yourself well:
- Devour Scripture. To lead well we must follow well. Our personal relationship with our leader, Jesus Christ, is our only hope. We follow Jesus through devouring His word and experiencing His presence.
- Submit to Godly Leaders. This may seem counterintuitive, but we have to understand that we exemplify the follower we are leading others to be. Be a Timothy who submits to the Godly wisdom (exhortation, admonition, and encouragement) of a Paul figure in your life.
- Check Your Pride at The Door. Leaders struggle with pride. A desire to lead is often birthed out of a conviction to teach or improve a group of people. Humility in leadership accomplishes more than stubborn pride could ever begin to achieve.
- Commit to Life-long Learning. Read books! Read old people, dead people, and young people. Read those you agree with AND those you do not. Pursue relationships with people who can teach you. Devouring scripture and submitting to Godly leaders creates maturity and a greater capacity for new growth. Growing in maturity allows us to constantly re-evaluate ideas with new understanding.
- Wait Productively. God creates opportunities for leadership. There must be seasons on our journey where we are getting our lives adjusted in preparation for God’s move in the days ahead. Those who rush into leadership without taking the first step of leading themselves well just fall harder.
God has called you to lead. He may be calling you to lead in a very visible way, or in a more behind the scenes manner. The grand picture is that He has called each instrument to play a part in His great story of redemption. Your role is vitally important in the story.
Questions: Do you lead yourself well? What areas are the most difficult for you? Are you willing to ask for help on your leadership journey?