Read a blog post by Pete Wilson the other day that hit home. Instead of feeling bad or guilty about loneliness as a leader, he relates it with Jesus.
Very early in my ministry I had another leader tell me leadership can be a lonely activity.
I’ve worked very hard in my life to surround myself with other leaders. I’ve worked hard to empower the people around me and build authentic community.
However, I agree: There is an element to leadership that is lonely—whether it’s leadership in a church, leadership in the workplace or even leadership in your home.
Leadership is one of the greatest privileges given to any human being. I’m sure many of us in leadership would agree leadership is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life.
But in leadership you carry a weight and responsibility that can drive you to a very lonely place. A healthy leader will allow this loneliness to drive him or her to a greater dependence on God.
The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
Just read a fascinating article entitled Picasso, Kepler, and the Benefits of Being an Expert Generalist. I was attracted to this because as much as “expert generalist” sounds like an oxymoron, it’s exactly who I think I am. I have always had the personality of “jack of all trades” and been even called a “renaissance man.” And as much as that sounds nice, it’s one of the most frustrating things. Because a “jack of all trades” is a “master of none.” Because a “renaissance man” is known for just being a “renaissance man” and not for what they actually do.
It’s frustrating because even though there are many things that I enjoy and God’s even gifted me in many areas, I feel like there’s not an area or certain thing that I can be excellent in. There’s always a limit to my growth in the path that I’ve tried to focus on. Whether it be music or computers or ministry or whatever … I feel the limitations more than my competence. The other frustrating thing about it is that because there’s not one thing that you’re excellent in, you don’t stand out … you don’t become the expert in that area. When I tell others about my frustrations, they sometimes tell me, no you ARE a master at this or that. But that’s just because I might be better at it then them. To be a master of anything, it takes focus. And so to focus on many things is actually to focus on nothing.
Had a great coffee meeting with someone yesterday.
When someone in the church contacts me to do coffee or lunch, it’s usually because they want to talk about something that they’re going through and how I can advise them or help them through it. That was my expectation when I got a call in the afternoon from someone about meeting at Starbucks in 30 mins. Oh, was I wrong.
This guy just started asking me tons of questions about me. Questions like, “What’s your passion?”, “What gets you going and lights you up?”, “What’s something that people look to you for and you enjoy it?”, “What’s that one thing that comes naturally to you, when for others, it’s work?” Wow. At first, I was taken back, because I had to adjust my expectations of the meeting, but then realized, this is a pretty special meeting.
I was reminded of a story that Andy Stanley shares, that there’s a guy that he meets with monthly or quarterly, and the one question that this guys asks Andy every time they meet is,
“What you working on right now that’s big?”
That’s huge, because all of us can just get stuck in the day-to-day things of our lives, where the only thing that we are working on is what’s on our desk right now. But what if we were to have people like this that met with us occasionally and challenged us?
From A Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson:
I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself – and to all who will notice – that I am important. If I go into a doctor’s office and find there’s no one waiting, and I see through a half-open door the doctor reading a book, I wonder if he’s any good. A good doctor will have people lined up waiting to see him; a good doctor will not have time to read a book. Although I grumble about waiting my turn in a busy doctor’s office, I am also impressed with his importance.
Such experiences affect me. I live in a society in which crowded schedules and harassed conditions are evidence of importance, so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my signficance, and my vanity is fed.
I had to read this again today from one of my favorite books as a healthy reminder. I am NOT too busy.