October 8, 2018

Learning To Lead Yourself

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Leadership development is one of my greatest passions. I love to see how God works through the gifts and talents of other people.

Feeling part of what God is doing in somebody else’s life is very rewarding. In fact, it is so rewarding that it can become addictive. Yes. When you see someone growing in their potential, there is a feeling of accomplishment within ourselves that wants to be repeated with other people as well.

THAT is when leadership can become a problem.

The most basic rule of leadership is that in order to lead others, we need to learn to lead ourselves.

I once heard a preacher say, “If you live a life that is out of order, why would we want you to multiply into others?” That question stuck in my head. Why would I dare to lead others when in the effort to lead others, I forget to lead my life with longevity, health and sustainability in mind?

Maybe we try to hide our own shortfalls in making others successful, but it’s vital that we do the latter without neglecting the former.

In my short years of experience in leadership and observing other leaders, I see three areas in which we leaders can improve in leading ourselves:

1. Time management.

In the effort to invest in others, many times we neglect our own management of time.

Meeting with people, including potential leaders and other leaders, can take a lot of our time. It is hard sometimes to say no to things that will further God’s kingdom and might help someone to reach their potential. So instead of saying no, we simple add to an already busy agenda.

As leaders, we need to establish healthy boundaries when it comes to our time. This might look differently for each of us, depending on the stage of life we are in. Whatever stage in life you are in, let us learn to establish healthy boundaries with our time.

2. Eating and exercise habits.

This is where the longevity factor comes into place. You are valuable, and therefore, we need you as a leader to be around for the long run. However, because of our busy lives, we neglect healthy habits that will help us in the long run.

As leaders, we ought to make time to eat healthy. This is challenging since we meet in restaurants frequently. It is more challenging for leaders who have to travel frequently. However it is important to include healthy eating habits and exercise into our daily routine.

If you are staying at a hotel, visit the gym onsite. You do not have to be a marathoner, but walking, jogging, lifting and many other available choices will help you keep your body in good shape for the long run.

3. Spiritual disciplines.

Let’s be honest on this one.. if we have limited time available after a long day of meetings and pouring into people, and we have the choice to watch television or spend time in the Word of God, we might be tempted to conclude that since we have worked so hard for God, God understands a little “me time.”

Many high-capacity leaders neglect their spiritual time with God because of their busyness or simply because they have become professionals at what they do.

I was once having a conversation with a local pastor and the question I asked was, “What is the greatest challenge you face as a pastor?” His answer was honest and brave: “I struggle to spend time with God.” He explained to me how since he has been writing sermons for years, he has the experience to write something good even without praying or seeking God for direction.

Leaders are visionaries who look into the future and are not afraid to try things, but many times what God wants us to do is to listen to Him for direction. We need to set time to be with God just to enjoy Him as one enjoys being with a friend or colleague.

As I write this, I have to be honest that I myself struggle with these three things. I am a work in progress and still have a lot to learn!

Over the past few months I’ve been learning to depend more on God. As I learn more from Him, I can rest in Him knowing that the world keeps running when I take a break to spend time with family and friends.

I have also learned that I have a responsibility to take care of the resources God has given me, including my health and body. Exercise and healthy eating habits are becoming part of my life (even though it is hard, trust me, really hard). My prayer is that we can have strong, Spirit-led leaders for many years to come.

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