Last night’s discussion on leadership on Unbox Live! produced some meaningful and vibrant discussion and questions amongst online participants. With more than 120 comments and a number of fascinating questions, we wanted to expand a little bit more on a particular area of interest and focus that is incredibly relevant to our ongoing personal leadership development journeys.
One critical thing that came up was the desire of becoming a leader and where both pride and humility play a role. This is such an excellent thing for us to ponder further. Is it prideful to desire leadership? Do truly humble people intentional stay out of the big stage leadership spotlight? The answer is, it depends.
There is no one quick answer here and that’s why I’m glad we have a chance to unpack this a bit more than we could last night. First, it depends on why we desire leadership? Are we doing it to become famous? For the respect of people? For Money? For Power? We know these are all bad reasons for desiring a position of leadership. But, there are others that may not be quite so clear. That’s why this part distills down to a simple rule; we need to check our motivation for desiring leadership. If it’s for a reason solely connected to this world and we still seek it anyway, that’s putting something else before God and God’s word is very clear that’s a huge no no. This would signal pride by the mere fact that what this communicates to God is that we think we can outsmart Him at His master plan, this is a bad idea that never ends well. And it has the potential to develop an even more outwardly prideful spirit; once we’ve achieved the very things we’ve set as priorities over God.
On the other side of that, if our desire for leadership comes from a place where we are truly seeking to maximize our potential for God’s glory, enter into a position where we can serve something larger than ourselves, be a blessing to those we lead, and learn skills to live out our calling from God to the fullest, these are all pretty good signs that our desire to enter into leadership is not stemming from a place of pride, but rather one of humility and genuine service to God.
This is where humility comes into the equation. Humility is something we get confused about quite a bit, I personally was confused on this issue for about five years until more than a handful of people set me straight. Often times, we see humility as making sure we stay out of the spotlight and never take credit for our work and our achievements, but rather hide the corner with our heads down thanking God silently for all the other folks getting credit for our work and contributions. That’s not humility, that’s robbing God of glory and praise of the creation He made, the gifts He’s given us, and our testimony to His unending grace and mercy.
Genuine humility is when we keep our lives in the proper order according to what God has commanded of us. Things like, God first above all else. Loving our neighbors as ourselves. Sacrificing for the things that we know the Holy Spirit has placed on our heart. Walking out what we read in scripture even when the rest of the world tells us we shouldn’t and deep in our sinful flesh we don’t want to. That’s humility. It’s okay to receive an award or be in a position of authority, as long as our attitudes and motives for doing so align with a proper spirit of humility and not one of pride.
The hard part in all of this is that you and God are the only ones who can really answer these questions. We all have blind spots and for some of us, discernment is not a spiritual gift. Therefore, find wise counsel even if you think your discernment is great. Seek out people you can trust and open up to about this matter. Not a lot of them, but a few who might know you in different ways and give you vantage points that you might not ordinarily be considering on a regular basis. Also, these are generally not one-time conversations, they are fluid and ongoing. Perhaps, they will even require some formal mentoring or coaching.
But through all of it remain in a place of consistent and ongoing prayer, because at the end of the day even your wisest confidants can’t get inside your skin to make these determinations for you. You want to be hearing very clearly from the Holy Spirit on all matters of leadership as you move forward in your personal leadership journey. The future depends too heavily on strong Christ centered leaders for us to get this wrong.