A Paradox of Leadership

Do you feel responsible for others? Should you? Like most things that’s a yes and no. In some ways of looking at it, feeling responsible for others is good motivation. But there are other ways in which feeling responsible for others is toxic to both us and the people we lead. 

What do the scriptures say? We can look at some scriptures and know for sure that God expects us to feel a certain responsibility for people around us. Examples would be:

  • Jesus saying, “As you did to the least of these, you did to me,” (Matthew 25:40)
  • Paul commanding Christians to “bear one another’s burdens,” (Galatians 6:2)
  • Jesus commanding us to “let our light shine before men,” (Matthew 5:16)

Chances are good that God has call you to some sort of people helping ministry (even if it’s not a full-time profession). For example, are you responsible for the homeless people in your community? To what degree? 

I think I have one tip that will bring some balance: we cannot help others if we do not take care of ourselves. Therefore, self-care and self-improvement IS leadership. The best soul-care people are the ones who have learned to care for their own souls. The best healers are wounded healers. We can’t give what we don’t have. 

Sometimes it’s hard to get leaders to take time to pump the breaks and take time to heal themselves first. But this is essential if we are to be leaders who last. It is necessary for avoiding burn out, and it models well for those watching us. Instead of telling them what to do, we are showing them by example when we take care of ourselves first. 

If we really understand that our own self-work is necessary for effective leadership, then that can become a motivator to work on ourselves. If we work on ourselves out of love for others, then the responsibilities to both self and others are attended to.

I want to get better so that I can be better for God and others, not so that I can just feel better about how good I am!

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