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The Pain & Art of Leadership

Leadership is solving problems and bearing pain” according to Dr. Gordon Anderson. My degree is in mathematics, not because of being a wiz with numbers but because I am good at solving problems. Leaders must creatively solve the multitude of difficulties faced everyday!


Bearing pain

Not only must a leader be able to solve problems, they must be able to bear pain.

As a school administrator in the Middle East, the job lends itself to inflammatory meetings. When I detect there will be difficulty, I have a local staff member sit-in. After one such meeting, a staff member said, “This man was so rude…in the middle of the meeting I wanted to slap him for you!” Thankfully he refrained. Bearing pain is required of leadership.

Navigating relationships

One of my seminary professors said leadership is the art of navigating relationships. Whether starting your own work or walking into pre-established ones, the ability to empower, equip, and enable fellow workers is of primary importance. Navigating relationships sometimes involves bearing pain because difficult people are part of the job. However, some may be riding the wrong bus (Jim Collins, Good to Great) and need to get off.

Praying the driftwood leaves

An African leader spoke to a large gathering, people working throughout the continent. He knew they were experiencing dissension and hardship in a number of places. He instructed them to pray the driftwood out of the area. Within four years a number of troublemakers left, unity and progress took their place. There may be times when driftwood needs to be prayed out of the workplace.

Influence as a byproduct

There are more people writing about leadership today than ever before, about 3500-4000 manuscripts are proposed to United States publishers every year. Some books focus on leadership being “influence.” But influencing others should be a byproduct of leadership, not the focal point.

Living righteously

Jesus instructs His followers in the Sermon on the Mount,

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

Being righteous is living right before God and man, a major component of relationships. Living right with God influences others to go in a similar direction. Living right with man carries over into every contact. A leader needs to live right with colleagues, co-workers, and those they lead.

Intimacy with Christ

Some leadership skills are learned but intimacy with Christ cannot be exchanged for competence in leadership. Leaders give evidence of the fruit of the Spirit by spending an extravagant amount of time abiding in the vine.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NLT)

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Gal. 5:22,23 (NLT)

Leaders lead righteously by abiding in Jesus. Spend time studying the Word, praying, fasting and engaging in other forms of spiritual disciplines. The results give an ability to manifest the supernatural blessings of the gift of the Spirit.

The challenge

Embrace opportunities to develop your leadership skills and learn how to effectively handle the pressures of leading others. Develop empowered leadership skills through intimacy with Christ. He is the source of strength and joy, enabling you to bear pain and influence others while exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit.

What kinds of leadership skills have you developed? Share your comments below.