There have been times that I have been an unhealthy, dangerous leader. I lead with this statement as to not make the reader feel as though a religious finger is being pointed at any one leader during this post. As the apostle Paul said, "I am the chief of sinners." (paraphrased)
In retrospect, the most dangerous aspects of my earlier years in leadership could easily be justified. It's easy to justify that which feels good. However, when others are being wounded by one's actions, justification or reason are of little value.
Below are 4 definitive actions commonly seen in leaders, particularly in young leaders. Again, I know these all to well, because I have lived them. If you are a young leader, please be sensitive to these 4 things as your awareness will allow you to lead people in a healthier, more holistic way.
1. Habitual Sarcasm
As I said above, it's easy to justify that which feels good. Sarcasm comes natural to many. I am loaded with sarcasm. Often times, sarcasm is used as a means to delegitimize another, take a jab, or make an ego driven point. Sarcasm is fun as well. In its proper place, it can bring a laugh or two. However, if sarcasm turns into an habitual conversation element, one can begin to lose much credibility, respect, and authority in relationships. After a while, the class clown you will become. What was once fun and harmless has now become the stumbling block in your relationship with friends and peers.
People love to laugh, joke, share great stories, and enjoy occasional sarcasm. Beware, habitual sarcasm often speaks to being an unhealthy person. If majority of your conversations begin or end with a jab, often enough, there is a root of jealousy, bitterness, or competition.
What about you? What does your conversations sound and feel like? Are they full of sarcasm? Just take a minute to check your heart. You may be unintentionally alienating yourself, and others.
People tolerate sarcastic people, but they will not celebrate sarcastic people.
2. Deficient Grace
Ruling would describe my early years of leadership. I had little grace for anyone who was not like me. Little did I know that I was worse off than those I was attempting to lead.
Grace is a free gift, yes. However, just like any other gift, it has to be realized and received. Also, grace must be extended.
Deficient grace swings both ways as it relates to how we live. For me, I had not realized grace for my own life, and refused to believe that grace was this good. For others, they had no holiness present in their lives and lived under a perceived umbrella of grace. We were all on the wrong side of our theology. Sure, we were still covered by His grace. However, both sides were deficient in our understanding of grace.
My challenge to young leaders is this: Learn Grace. Learn grace for yourself by the teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into the vacuum of deficient grace. When you realize that grace is both free and holy, peace will envelope your life. It just feels good to live free and live holy.
3. Consistent Criticism
Have you ever met that person who has nothing to say that does not involve some type of criticism? Yeah, that was probably me. Again, if it did not sound, look like, or think like me, it was deserving of my criticism.
Sure, there are things within the ministry or our area of influence that we often need to look at with a critical eye. However, if all we do is spew out criticism, we will immediately begin to chip away at the good things and good people around us. Criticism has its place, but it cannot be the method by which you lead or give direction.
Leader, learn to speak words that are "full of grace, seasoned with salt." Allow criticism to be your last option, if possible.
4. Emotional Decision Making
If you feel it, this does not mean that you should do it. There are times that I strongly "feel" an emotional pull or drive to make a decision. However, just like a compulsive shopper who buys things without thinking, so you too make decisions without thinking them through.
Colossians 3:15 (AMP) says it best: "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]."
What if you were to begin putting into practice this passage above? What if you were to lead by allowing "Christ to be the umpire of your decision-making, deciding and settling with finality all the questions that arise in your mind"?
What would happen if you were to slow down and allow His Wondrous Spirit to lead through you? John 16:13 calls Him "The Spirit of Truth" that will lead and guide you into all truth.
This is the mission and purpose of the Spirit; the lead into truth and comfort you through the process.
My personal experience has been on both sides of the fence. If I ran ahead, I ended up way behind. If I waited on Him, I ended up in great success and peace.
If the above 4 areas are a struggle for you, please know that you are in good company. Let us fight these subtle foes together.
Shut down the sarcasm, learn grace, kill the unnecessary criticism, and slow down and make Spirit led decisions.
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