"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?" (Matthew 16:24-26)
The flourishing leader looks like a man or woman following Jesus with passion and intent. Henri Nouwen says the mature leader is willing "to be led where they would rather not go."
To follow Jesus to his cross demands a deep spiritual affection—you and I must love Jesus so much that we'd go anywhere with him and for him. Some think this kind of leadership weak. But that is not the case.
Jesus does not call us to roll over or be spineless. But he does call us to a place of powerlessness. "It is not a leadership of power and control," writes Nouwen about Christian leadership, "but a leadership of powerlessness and humility, in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest."
The humble leader understands and lives by the truth: truth of self, truth of others and the truth of their situation. The powerless leader abandons power "in favor of love," performs their work with precision and grace so that those who rely on him or her feel cared for and valued.
This is the person whose leadership knows no bounds, it is the leader who is led by Christ. Do you know this kind of leader? Are you this kind of leader? In your home? In your friendships? In your school? In your business? In your church?
You can spot a leader who leads for their own gain; the one bent on self-help, power and control. They're the one vying for the limelight and the accolades.
Who among us will lead the church and our families and our businesses into the future? It is the leader, as Nouwen says, who can be led.
"I AM the Way …" And so he is. May we follow him as we walk in him.
Today's Prayer: Strengthen me to be strong enough to follow you, Lord Jesus, and humble enough to lead those whom I serve.
The leader that flourishes also needs to understand the value of rest. Check out the new FREE eBOOK my friend, Jason Locy, and I have just released. It's called The Sound of Silence: A Short Book on Rest.
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Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.