Leaders do not only regularly disappoint those we lead, we can also disappoint ourselves. When we don’t hit benchmarks, when we let down a parishioner, or when we fail to reach a goal, we not only have to contend with the swarm of people disappointed in our leadership but also with our own self-criticism. Often, we are our own worst critics.
In my twenty-plus years as a leader in the non-profit sector, I’ve found that much of leadership involves disappointing people. When I got into church leadership, I assumed I would spend the majority of my time inspiring people with my vision, comforting people with my pastoral skills, and instilling God’s Word through my preaching. Little did I know that in every one of those areas (and more) I would disappoint people.
I believe God values coherence (integrity) of his followers as they express God’s goodness in their work and lives. The most logical thing for the Christian is for their leadership to express love for God and love for others, leading to a joyful life that is deeply coherent.
This past summer, my church blessed me with a sabbatical, which allowed me to rest, study, and prepare to lead my church with renewed energy and purpose… One of the books I committed to reading during my sabbatical was Dave Evans and Bill Burnett’s Designing Your Life, which challenged me to reflect on my workview and lifeview.
Yesterday we talked about how we spend the majority of our lives working in some way — whether paid or unpaid — and that our work should glorify God. But we all know that our work is not the totality of our lives and it makes sense to evaluate our work within a broader context.
Defining your work is very specific to your context. Using my work as an example, that means 75% is church, 20% is home and 5% is other. Your work proportions will look different, but the important thing is to not limit your understanding of work to only that which you get paid for or have a title.
Moses didn’t have a smart watch but he did have a smart mentor. Jethro, his father-in-law, spoke clearly about Moses’s leadership so that he could have a much healthier work/life balance.
Moses was overly stretched trying to single-handedly shepherd the tens of thousands of Hebrews who had fled Egypt (some scholars think the number could have been in the millions). Moses realized that the way he was leading wasn’t sustainable and, thankfully, he had a mentor, Jethro, who could speak some sense into him!
In yesterday’s devotion we were challenged by an assertion in Dave Evans’ and Bill Burnett’s book, Designing Your Life to not waste time on the wrong problems but rather to focus on the right ones. They follow this advice by warning us to especially avoid what they call “gravity problems”.
Sometimes the problems we focus lots of resources on don’t deserve this time and effort. Wrong problems often disguise themselves as important or urgent when they are rarely both – and often neither. Those we lead deserve our focus to be on the right problems to be addressed instead of the wrong problems that others want us to fix.