In Lead more gently

How much of leadership is about me?

There is so much writing out there on the subject of leadership – some inspiring and some downright scary.  One article I recently read was by a guy who believes that a leader should always have what he calls “a competitive advantage” which he went on to explain as follows:

At the next staff meeting, ensure that your chair is set slightly higher than everybody else’s

or

Try to get your closest competitor at the office to face the side where the sun shines the brightest so that he can’t see properly.

Certainly, as a Christ follower, I need to question those strategies.

It seems that even during the days when Jesus walked this earth, people were using manipulative ways to get ahead or be seen.  His response to his disciples was “not so among you!”  (Matthew 20:25-26)

If I want to embrace a Christ-centered leadership style I should become the servant of all.

At first glace that seems somewhat doable.  I think I can find it in my heart to serve people.   That is … until somebody treats me like a servant.  Then suddenly “my rights” are important and this “servant” wants to set her chair a little higher than everybody else’s and I am ready to let the sun shine on into that person’s eye.  Then I find out how much I love others compared to how much I love me.  And therein lies the motivation of my leadership.

In order to fully embrace the kind of servant leadership Jesus teaches, I need to learn to

  • love God more than I love me
  • love others just as I love me

To implement this, I have found that I have to learn one more love

  • the love of God’s Word (which will ultimately help me succeed in the above two points)

It takes daily discipline to learn to love God’s word more than my own and to hear His voice above my own – and above all the other voices in this world of ours.

Here is one way how (Deut 6:6-9):

  • Write God’s commands upon my heart (not just in my head).
  • Impress them on my children (who learn mostly by what they see)
  • Talk about them when I sit at home or when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up (discuss, not lecture)
  • Tie them as symbols on my hands and bind them on my forehead (demonstrate them in my lifestyle)
  • Write them on the doorframes of my house and on my gates (let them become my sanctuary)

I have found that as I do this, day by day, my chair becomes the lowest and I seek ways to let the sun warm my neighbor’s back.

Question: What are ways that help you to love others as much as you love yourself?  Please feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Jerry Houston
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    Michelle:

    As a member of the leadership randks for more than 40 years, and as a student of leadership principle for almost as long, I think your suggestions above apply not only to family but also to business.

    The author, Jim Collins (good to GREAT) states that great leadership comes from humility and will. Just when we think that we are the reason for “GREAT” we need to take a step back and remember that if we lead and no one follows then we are really walking alone! As for “will” I have learned that if I beleive strongly in a position that I am taking as a leader, and I have prayed over it, that I will probably stick to my guns! Some who know me might call it stubbornness, but I am going to stick with “will.”

    Blessings,
    Jerry

    • Reply
      Deborah Johnson
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      I wonder if being in leadership for so long do you remember what it was like to follow? It is not our will but God’s will be done. Just wondering.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
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      Isn’t it wonderful, Jerry, how God’s word applies to all aspects of our lives – work,family, friends, where ever.

  • Reply
    Deborah Johnson
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    I think it is so important first to totally understand the difference between God and us. Most people do not have that one down before they get into a leadership role. God is God and we are not, His ways are not our ways. The ground at the foot of the Cross is very level, but some as pointed out by Jesus with the religious leaders raise their ground a little higher than others. So to love others as I love myself means that I will listen with an empathic heart and not consider anyone else any better or worse than I am.

    Before going on a mission trip to Romania a dear friend of mine lived on the streets for several weeks just as the homeless do. She wanted to understand the desperation and alienation they felt as they journeyed the streets. She was a RN and was going to help establish a woman’s clinic in Romania. The difference she said was that she knew she had a home to go to and a job but she caught a glimpse of what they were experiencing.

    It seems very few people have time for self evaluation let alone to really listen to anyone else. Reading the bible and meditating on it seems to be a thing of the past when God uses it so much to help us see ourselves in the pages of history and our relationship to God. In it we learn how to be great leaders because we understand God first and then the rest follows. To be a great leader we first have to learn to be follower of the best leader there is.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
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      Your friend who lived on the streets certainly displayed a wonderful servant’s heart. Not many people would be willing to go to such lengths to understand. Thanks for the great comments Deborah.

  • Reply
    Ron
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    Being a leader, in my opinion is all about serving. It is striving to do whatever it takes to make the people you are leading be successful. For some people this seems counter intuitive. They say ‘don’t I have to toot my own horn for people to see it’? I say as a leader ones success is really is the success of everyone you are leading. Does this mean you don’t lead – absolutely not! It just means you lead by example. You establish a direction and march toward it. You never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do. You volunteer to get things done when you know the people you are leading need help and they are better than you at doing something else than the task at hand. The task can be ‘beneath’ your status but in reality nothing should be that way. Jesus showed us by washing the disciples feet nothing was ‘beneath’ him. How can we as Christians think differently!

    • Reply
      Deborah Johnson
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      Jesus also lead by laying down His authority and deity to get into the trenches with those He loved.

    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
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      I agree that nothing should really be beneath us. Leadership should be about the good of others, not the good of ourselves.

  • Reply
    treatment
    at

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    • Reply
      Michelle Tessendorf
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      You are so very welcome. I’m glad my webpages have been of help to you.

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