We had reached a stalemate.
As I looked around the room at my team, I was staring into the faces of incredibly strong-willed and passionate individuals who were not going to budge on their opinion. I was convinced they were wrong. They were convinced they were right.
Everything in me wanted to play the trump card; I was the boss. I could settle this. With one statement I could make the decision and move us along. But in a rare moment of maturity I knew that my pride just wanted to win.
Sometimes it’s pride. Sometimes it’s fear. Maybe it’s insecurity. Maybe it’s doubt. It could be anger. It could be timidity. Whatever it is, we all encounter that weakness in our character that repeatedly holds us back or trips us up.
Many times, the weakness for me is the need to be right. I want to be right. I want to prove I’m right. I want others to know I’m right. Or more simply put — pride. But pride left uncontested only serves to sabotage my influence.
As leaders, we need to understand the weaknesses that seek to derail us and we must dig deep to do the soul work necessary to grow.
What is it for you? What’s that part of your nature that holds you back? What’s the thing that you need to fight against to become a mature and good leader?
Parker Palmer reminds us, “A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside him — or herself, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.”
Our attempts to lead others will be halted by the hurdles in our own lives. Our repeated stumbling inhibits us from leading well.
But there is hope! Transformation is possible. In fact, it’s promised if we earnestly seek it. God’s promises for life change are available to leaders too. Ephesians 4:24 reminds us “to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” It is a daily decision to discard the character weaknesses that attempt to wear us down.
When I find myself repeatedly wrestling with a character issue, here are some things that I do:
1. Slow down. As leaders, we have a tendency to power through rather than slow down and reflect. When we identify a characteristic that isn’t honoring to God in our lives, we need to slow down and ask some questions like, “Why did that situation trigger my response? What caused me to react that way?”
2. Pray. Our hearts have to be connected with God for the fruit of the Spirit to overflow. Our human efforts will never make up for the power of God’s work in our lives when we are connected to him.
3. Seek feedback. When there’s an issue tripping you up frequently, seek feedback from peers and mentors. Find others to speak wisdom into your life.
4. Try again. Every day is a new day in which God’s mercy gives us a fresh start.
The arena of leadership will test your character. It will push you to your limits. It will magnify your weaknesses and define your limitations.
But these are the moments where God’s strength shines brightly in our imperfection. When our tendency is to find confidence and strength in our accomplishments, our weaknesses point us back to God’s transformational work in our lives.
Pay attention. Listen for God’s promptings. Humble yourself and watch God do His transforming work in your life.