“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” — Mark Twain
Recently I was catching up with a regional leader on what was next. I had recently transitioned out of my home church into a new season. He asked me what I learned the most while being there. As I tried to think about the last three and a half years, I knew I learned so much, but couldn’t pinpoint one particular thing. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t leaving with just more information or knowledge, but as a fuller version of who God envisioned me to be. I shared that more than what I gained or acquired, I was walking away empowered in my identity and purpose. That my time there was more about who I became than what I learned.
This was in stark contrast to my previous experience, which was probably one of the worst times of my life. I saw the dark side of leadership where people’s own agendas and insecurities negatively affect everyone. It was indeed a difficult season, but not a wasted one because I did learn so much. I learned how to submit and to honor. In retrospect, I can honestly say that it were the bad leaders who taught me the most about leadership. They taught me what not to do, whereas great leaders didn’t necessarily teach me how to be a better leader, instead they helped me become my best self.
Isn’t that what true leadership should be about? To really help others step into their identity and calling. It doesn’t take much faith to have low expectations of others or even to tell people what to do. Leadership is about greatness: the greatness of others! True greatness is about helping others become great. Great leaders are like magnets that pull out and draw forth the greatness already within you. Greatness is too big to pursue and experience alone. A leader invites others to journey with him or her towards it. The greatest people I know are the ones who have helped me believe I had what it takes to become great like them, especially when I couldn’t see it or think that I could. They weren’t interested in micromanaging my decisions, but rather were committed to equipping and empowering me to walk into my destiny so that I could make wise decisions for myself.
The truth is, some of you that are reading this right now might be serving a “difficult leader”. Trust the Lord and submit to His leadership, which allows us to submit to earthly leaders. Honor is so key! Commit to walk in it no matter the cost, even your own pride. Develop ways to create and communicate healthy boundaries. In time God will bring the right people and leaders into your life who will acknowledge the greatness that’s there waiting to be discovered and refined. Just know your current circumstance isn’t wasted and that it also won’t be forever. Allow it to make you even more passionate to become a great leader!
All in all, I am grateful for all the leaders I have encountered. Not everyone of them was good and not everyone of them was bad. Yet each one has played a role in my development. To the difficult leaders, thank you for all that you taught me. To the great leaders, thank you for who I’ve become.