As I look around the landscape and see all the corporate / political damage and “dead bodies,” it really is scary and unnerving. At times I ask myself if being a leader is worth it.
The Price Of Leadership
First of all, there IS a price to pay. Often it is the price of loneliness. The loneliness of wrestling with issues that, at times, others don’t see or care about. There is the loneliness of making tough and unpleasant decisions. Part of what makes some decisions hard is the temptation to keep everyone happy. Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know what the secret to success is but I know what the secret to failure is, and that’s trying to keep everybody happy.” Would you be inclined to agree? I would.
I collect definitions of leadership and one of my favorite’s is: “A leaders is a person who makes decisions some of which are right.” But the price a Christian leader pays in praying, thinking, information gathering, and emotional and mental sweating can be high. Leaders live with a lot more stress than others due to the nature of the decisions that fall to their lot. Your motives can be judged, called into question, or outright attacked. Maybe that’s why there is so much “buck passing” and finger pointing when a decision turns out to be a bad one.
Years ago someone told me that if I accepted the role of a leader, I should plan on being misunderstood. I didn’t comprehend it then, but I certainly do now. Oh, the horror stories I have heard of what has happened to good leaders of integrity who have been ambushed by what Marshall Shelley calls, “Well-Intentioned Dragons.” In the book by that title, Shelly says, “Criticism comes with the territory-some of it deserved, some of it unfair, all of it devastating.” How true. How true. There is a big price tag on leadership.
In II Corinthians 4: 8, 9 the Apostle Paul speaks to the price when he says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” And, again, in II Corinthians 11:27, 28, “In weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness, besides the other things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches.” Now, admittedly, some of what Paul faced had to do with his calling as a mobile apostle, but at the same time it was part of being a leader.
The high price of leadership keeps some from ever stepping into it and forces others into quickly stepping out of it. I have long since lost track of those who once served as leaders who would rather drink motor oil than try again. It is so sad. I think that the key to lasting as a leader is weighing the price against the pay off. I have been tempted to quit many times. To come to the conclusion in my mind that I can’t handle it any longer, but the grace of God and the promises of God give me the fortitude to continue on.
The Payoff Of Leadership
The thrill of winning a game keeps people on the floor, the field or the ice and allows them to put up with the training, the pain and the pressure. The coach’s job is to help the players keep perspective and keep their eyes on the payoff. Winning the game, the league championship, being world champions, the end result of the process.
Is it any different in the world of Christian leadership? It’s imperative to keep our eyes on the end goal. Standing before the Savior with joy and love in our hearts and hearing his “well done.” I heard the story of a missionary couple returning home by ship after many years of faithful and difficult service. As it turned out Teddy Roosevelt’s ship came in about the same time. There were great crowds awaiting Teddy’s arrival , but hardly anyone welcoming this couple home. As he started to be discouraged, he heard the Lord quietly remind him, “But you’re not ”home” yet.
Paul again has something to say to the weary. beat up and discouraged leaders who are paying a high price that is exacting a toll. “Therefore we do not lose heart. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Cor 4:16-18.
When we get to heaven and see all the people we have deeply impacted, the lives that have been transformed, the people who have come to faith through our lives and our lips, it will be worth it all. I heard about a Christian lady named Helen .
Ever since she was a small girl she made decisions by asking herself “Is it worth it?” After serving the Lord for many years, things got tough and she was paying the price of leadership. She began to waver and asked herself if “it was worth it.” Jesus put a vastly different question to her, “Am I worth it?”
Yes, Jesus is worth it. The price is worth the pay off. As the old song puts it, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. All problems seem so small when we see Christ. One look at his dear face, all trials will erase, so bravely run the race ‘till we see Christ.”
So fellow leader. Hang in there. Don’t quite because of the price. He didn’t quit when the price was high! “Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2