For as long as I can remember I have had several hot buttons. You know, those things that cause you to go from calm to incredibly ticked or disappointed in no time flat. These include; when someone betrays my trust, when people act like their God’s gift to the earth, and when leaders don’t take responsibility for their actions or attitudes. The last one really is a struggle for me, one that – if truth be told – is a huge foothold for the devil.
Why am I sharing this, you might ask? One, because it’s therapeutic – two, because it’s a form of accountability – three, to make sure I’m not crazy.
Throughout my life I can pinpoint the times when I have been so enraged over the lack of ownership of a leaders decision. I am sure it is a part of the human condition – I mean, who really wants to take ownership and responsibility for mistakes, bad judgement, and character flaws? We are all quick to take credit when things go right and just as quick to blame someone else when things go wrong – I think this is especially true in leadership – and let me say upfront I am no different.
Just recently I had someone unload on me, quite unexpectedly, a whole bunch of issues they had with me. My first instinct was to fight…I’m a fighter and I have no issue with taking someone on regardless of who they are. However, I have learned that fighting in those situations isn’t always beneficial…so I listened. Although confused by the basis of some of the accusations, there were some things that have been told to me before by others. Even though I wrestle with how much of it is someonelse’s lack of communication and expectations, ultimately I have to take ownership if this is what is being perceived of me and I need to take the nuggets of truth amidst the large garbage heap that came with it.
Let me be very clear in saying that I am not talking about living your life by what others think of you – I’m more worried about what God thinks of me then a bunch of people that have unsubstantiated opinions based out of there own insecurities (Although truth can still come from them). What I am saying is that if you have made a mistake, if you are habitually doing something that causes detriment to the people around you and your overall effectiveness as a leader – than by golly, you need to be able to take a good hard look at yourself and the situations around you.
It kills me when someone who has done something painful blames other people for it. “It’s their fault, not mine.” “If people didn’t expect so much of me, it wouldn’t have happened.” “My parents put to much pressure on me.” “I’m a product of the daily grind.” “If you would have put the accountability there, it never would have happened.” Seriously?!
Instead of taking ownership and responsibility it becomes a blame game, or a fight, or even a game of hide and seek. I have older people tell me, “well your just young and idealistic, that’s just the way it is.” Well, first off, why is being idealistic a bad thing? And secondly, why is it OK for it to be that way? Look, I will never be OK with someone not taking responsibility for their own actions regardless of how long they have been doing it..and I’m including myself in that. As a pastor and a leader why wouldn’t I want to be the best pastor and leader that I could be…and yeah sometimes that means conflict and facing ugly truths but isn’t the kingdom of God worth it? Aren’t the dreams and visions that God has placed in my heart, that he has been affirming for the past 7 years, worth it? I say yes!
I know this guy who did some pretty awful stuff. Recently he has begun the difficult and arduous task of talking responsibility…is it easy…HECK NO! Does it erase everything that was done, absolutely not – but it does say something about humility.
Which is where I end today. Humility, in my opinion, the single greatest thing lacking in leaders today. Just because you clean a toilet doesn’t mean your humble, especially if you feel the need to tell people about it. Just because you say your humble…certainly does not mean that you are humble. We lead with pride instead of humble confidence and yet wonder why people lose trust and faith in us or worse in God. And none of us are immune – which brings in the idea of grace.
Going back to the beginning of this post – in truth, for me, it is a foothold for the devil – because I don’t want to show grace – so instead of humble confidence, grace, and speaking truth in love, I find it easier to act out and place myself above them – as if I myself have never done such a thing. Which makes me stuck, because I don’t know that kind of balance – and although I have older people tell me you learn it with age – I have yet to see someone demonstrate that balance. It’s either passive, aggressive, or even worse passive aggressive – but not balance.
So, where does that leave me? I have no idea. What I do know, is that leaders need to take responsibility for their actions. However, that does not mean that they are responsible for they way in which I respond…that’s my responsibility.
What do you think?