“The [worst] thing that can ever happen to any of us is to have a path that’s made too smooth. One of the greatest blessings the Lord ever gave us was a cross.” – Charles Spurgeon
My initial response to that isn’t – “What delightful news!”
Personally, we’ve been in a season of major change and deconstruction. While we have so, so much to be grateful for – our circumstances are less than the ‘blessed and highly favored, head and not the tail’ life we’d like to post with a pristine filter to instagram every hour. We’d like to look elsewhere for the real problem. It is easier to blame something (or someone) that seems outside your control. But a true analysis reveals the common thread to everything I experience and perceive is: ME.
“I have been a part of every bad decision I have ever made” – Andy Stanley
Trying to ignore something so personal is like having a ‘check engine’ light on, but you just keep driving – hoping it will fix itself. In my daily problem solving this looked like “keep doing what you’ve been doing, but only ‘better'” – but it continually failed to hold water. Stephen Covey says “Anytime we think the problem is ‘out there’ – that thought is the problem!” And so, I’ve realized a two-edged sword; that personal responsibility is both a huge bummer, and also the most liberating, hopeful perspective I’ve found! To an overwhelmed, downtrodden soul – it restores hope and a sense that “I’m in control of my life.”
This is why, delegated tasks produce followers, and why delegated authority produces leaders – when you decide you’re in the driver’s seat you realize you have no one to blame or thank for the outcome but yourself.
“Jesus, take the wheel, take it from my hands… I’m letting go.” – Carrie Underwood
Don’t try and pass the buck off to God either! Let’s live surrendered, sure, but in what areas is he asking you to drive? We are the sum of our choices. We reap what we sow. There are external things that can mark us, yes – but our character and integrity are ours to develop; to choose!
Getting back in the driver’s seat:
“Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot choose otherwise.” – Stephen Covey
#1 – Enjoy responsibility
Responsibility and enjoyment don’t usually live in the same sentence. In-between a stimulus and a response we have a choice! Own that. Take hold of your ‘response-ability.’ Be proactive. Andy Stanley says “Exceptional self-leadership is the key to sustained influence. Great leaders last because they lead themselves first.”
#2 – Ask hard questions
Take a look in the mirror and be willing to ‘face your shadow.’ Parker Palmer says “It is easier to spend your life manipulating an institution than dealing with your own soul.” Leadership is a painful exploit. Escape from that pain isn’t the solution. Our pain can teach us something, if we allow it to. Ask ‘why’ questions and be willing to own the answer. Ask “what part of this is or should be my responsibility?”
“When we trust God in difficult times, our stumbling blocks become stepping stones of growth” – Samuel Chand
#3 – Don’t give up
God gave you something to steward: a position of authority, a role in your family or friendships, a dream or goal. That’s weighty, but don’t forget – implicit in that gift is belief in you to faithfully steward it! Say it out loud, “God believes in me!” Who are we to lose hope if he hasn’t! Reach out to the team around you; build one if there isn’t one yet – get help! And be yourself. Craig Groeschel reminds us “People would rather follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.”
Keep dreaming. Enjoy the burden. Dig deep into your soul. Never give up! This is HARD WORK – and as a leader, this is your JOB.
Remember, “it begins with me.”
“The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence and clearest manifestation of our proactivity. It is also the essence of our growth.” – Stephen Covey