We need to serve ourselves more as leaders.
I got you with that first line, didn’t I? Especially since the tagline of my blog is Leveraging Your Leadership Through the Lens of the Gospel. Seems a bit counter to what you might expect, doesn’t it?
Before you tune me out completely and click on unsubscribe, bear with me for a moment, if you will, and allow me to provide some clarity.
The truth is that I think of me way to much and need to align myself as a leader with a Philippans 2 mindset.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Phil. 2:3)
In my opening sentence, I did not mean serving myself more in terms of pushing to see my own agenda and plans carried out.
That is not how a leader leads.
When I speak of serving myself more, I say it in terms of this question:
If I am a leader, and one that is trying to make a small dent in the universe through the people with whom I connect, how do I personally invest in myself so that what I do overflow to others is offering encouragement, hope, and life?
And so I would like to challenge you in this post with three considerations for why you must, yes must, intentionally engage in both daily and personal growth if you are to create lasting change with your leadership.
And please, do not tune out because you are not a leader of title. Since when should someone lead only because of a mere title? As ministers of the Gospel, we lead because we have something to lead to.
The sharp ax gets the tree
Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about keeping the saw sharp. I can exert a lot of time and effort into cutting a tree down, and to all the onlookers, I seem to be busy and engaged. Take a closer look though, and you might see the blade of my axe very dull, and so exertion and energy are taxed because I did not keep the blade sharp.
How do I keep myself sharp? I read (Yes! Hear it again). Not everything in print has value, but there are a lot of great ideas that people discuss. And I may not even agree with the person from a worldview perspective, but they still might have a nugget to claim.
I read about those areas that will push me forward in thought or action. I try to engage others in conversation who might have expertise or experience in an area in which I am trying to grow.
I listen to podcasts. I listen to scripture. I listen to how others keep their lives sharp or having something of value to me – even if just one idea.
I also utilize past failures and successes – whether my own or someone else’s. Seeing lessons lived out is a powerful teacher.
You never know when…
It is difficult for me to remember all of the times that I have been in conversation with someone, and in the moment, a principle, example, or bit of Truth will fly into my head, just in time to use with the person with whom I am in conversation.
Call it the readiness factor. It is very satisfying to have God throw a thought in my mind that had its impetus from something I read, saw, or heard.
And isn’t that one primary reason that I desire to lead? To engage another in thought or conversation in such a way that they are changed, given hope, encouraged, or propelled in their own life? But I need inputs.
I lead because I want to make others successful in their own ventures and clear roadblocks that are deterring them from a better way.
The Gospel calls me to lead far beyond the notion of meeting goals or getting things done. Getting something done is good but there is more. Not the what but the who.
The value-add factor
Personal and daily growth for me is essential in adding value. And I do not mean adding value to raise up more of a me-monster. I man a value-add to the company and people that you work with. Have you ever thought about the fact that your own personal and daily growth helps prosper where you are employed, whether a school, business, church, or even a product?
And adding value to your own life, and not in terms of selfish desire, opens doors of opportunity that may have otherwise never been opened. Yes, it is God that opens and closes doors, but there are always consequences to my choices.
I look at my life, and how, from the rear-view mirror all of my intentional growth pursuits have opened amazing doors of opportunity and service for what I am doing now.
Think of it this way: I stay in shape as long as I pursue staying fit. But take a year off, and the effort to get back to where I was is monumental and demands much more effort and discipline.
That is why my title has both personal and daily in it. The daily allows me to recalibrate my thinking or actions before I begin to lose a lot of ground. I then deal with tweaks and adjustments rather than full paradigm or life changes.
There are always consequences to my daily decisions. And the apostle Paul makes a good point in the realm of the athlete:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
You will find a lot of noble reasons for personal and daily growth from a secular standpoint. But as a bearer of the Gospel, my reasons transcend lesser reasons of my just being more interesting to others or making sure I secure my position.
Not wrong. Just lesser.
And a final note about this topic. These growth points do not all happen in a day or overnight season. They start small and to be honest, may be unnoticeable in the beginning.
Like a vine on a fence. It starts small but makes its presence known over time. And after some seasons, the fence is defined by the vine. It adds beauty and character.
But keep being intentional, be patient, be consistent, be disciplined, and in time you will find these growth points affecting more than just you. They will spread and there will be influence.