As we strive to make a difference, to fulfill our calling, and to seek out God’s purpose in our lives we will all face the same struggle.
We will all face an individual that despite all our efforts they will continue to disappoint us.
We will all work desperately with someone and they will turn away.
We will all strive and pray for them to overcome their demons but they will continue to struggle.
We have all met this person and for most of us, this person is our most difficult leadership challenge.
Let us meet our greatest leadership challenge: This person is ourselves.
The harsh and most humbling fact in leadership is this:
“If we cannot lead ourselves we cannot lead others.”
Perhaps you’ve come to this realization as I have. Perhaps you have come to the place of brokenness and see the depth of your own inadequacy. Perhaps you have looked long at your own life as I have and realized how far short we all fall to the truths we proclaim.
How does one lead if our own hearts & minds continue to disobey?
If you have come to the place of brokenness, humility, and the end of your own strength; congratulations! You are now ready to be lead and lead others.
“The breaking of the outward man is the basic experience of all those who serve God. This must be accomplished before He can use us in an effectual way.” (Watchman Nee)
The answer to leading ourselves is in our submission to the greatest leader of all time: Jesus Christ.
God uses and has used the most ill-equipped, weak, and broken individuals in mighty ways not only to lead but to bring glory to Him. It is the most comforting peace to come to the foot of the cross and report for duty knowing that we will not be turned away but strengthened & empowered like never before.
If we submit to His divine guidance we receive new instructions that are written upon our hearts “so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
If we realize that we cannot lead ourselves on our own we recognize our need for God. God isn’t looking for worldly leaders; He is looking for those who will follow Him boldly in servant leadership as Jesus did.
Once we submit to His loving command the weight of control is off our shoulders and now we bear a new burden. The burden of bearing one another’s hearts.
We will have a new strength that is not of ourselves. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).
But if we are weak how in ourselves how are we strong? The world will tell us it is counterintuitive to think that once we are weak then we are strong. But it is God’s promise and provision that equips the empty vessel and not the pride filled leader who no longer needs guidance. We must continually submit to his guidance and love so we may be strong in the Lord.
Ask yourself this:
How many leaders do we know that lead well relied solely on themselves? Those that truly want to lead realize that they are called and to be called means that we are answering to a higher authority. God’s authority provides us with unlimited guidance and wisdom.
Paul, the apostle who wrote a large part of the New Testament, was one of the most educated men of his day yet he continually sought the Lord for guidance. He suffered hardships and pain yet realized that if he relied on his physical strength he would fail.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
In our weakness, we show others how God can be glorified by our trials, our tribulations, and how we endure when all others lose hope.
In our leadership journey, when we rise and face our greatest leadership challenge. Look upon our reflection and repeat the words:
“I am not my own; I was bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 paraphrase).
When the demons of pride and doubt enter our minds repeat the words:
“No temptation has overtaken me except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear. But when I am tempted, he will also provide a way out so that I can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 paraphrase).
If we are ready to admit that we cannot do this alone; that we cannot stand on our own strength this is when we can receive the power that will never fail us which is the divine leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Embrace Him as leader of our lives each & every day!
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries