There is a story that tells of a former military general who once approached an officer trying to rally his soldiers to lift a large piece of timber into place. The men were struggling to do so and when the general inquired as to why the officer wasn’t physically helping, the man quickly replied, “because I am the commanding officer.” Undeterred, the general dismantled from his horse and joined the men below to help lift the log into place. Once the task was completed, the general wiped the sweat from his brow, remounted his horse and informed the officer that if his assistance was ever needed again, he was free to call for the commander in chief anytime – this general, of course, was George Washington.
Clearly, we will all face various leadership styles and choices in our own lives, especially when we assume roles of responsibility. However, we also know leaders like Washington are rare, because many aren’t willing to sacrifice their position, or time in order to inspire and lead others most effectively. Therefore, as we engage others, it’s vital we consider our approach:
Hollow Leadership: This is being in charge, but not in command. For example, as parents, we have all been designated with the responsibility of leading our children to Christ and building their character (Luke 2:52). If we have employees, we have been entrusted with their career development & personal accountability. However, we continue to be bombarded with absentee parents and managers – thus, let us lead lives of substance and contribution rather than a hollow existence that seeks only to consume.
Harmful Leadership: Do our actions place stumbling blocks before others, or serve as stepping stones to empower them to new heights? We have all had relationships that contributed fear over peace, chaos over vision, segregation over collaboration, and criticism over solutions (Matthew 12:25). Typically, these leaders struggle with insecurity and pride. Therefore, we must be careful to identify such detriments in our own homes, jobs and affiliations.
Helpful Leadership: This is seeking to propel the prosperity of any environment we may find ourselves for God’s glory and not our own (Jeremiah 29:7). As Christians, we are described as the “light of the world“, but as such, we are to be sources of contribution and guidance to others. So, even though we may not prefer the people, or places God has provided us, we can still strive to help others and give our best.
Application: “Going The Second Mile With A Smile” – Matthew 5:41
In a world filled with self consumption, self promotion and self absorption, it can be difficult to be self sacrificing. We may feel we will be left behind, fall back, stomped over and taken advantage of, but as a wise pastor once stated, “when we serve as bridges to Christ, we can expect to be walked over.” In the end, this life is not about how many accomplishments and accolades we acquire for ourselves, but for the Kingdom of Christ.