It’s Not About You
My friend Helen doesn’t run for office or look for ways to take charge. She would tell you she is not a leader and that she has neither talent nor desire to lead anyone. Helen would say she simply responds to God’s call in whatever needs to be done. So it was that she was house manager of her sorority; for 35 years she was a teacher, mentor, and coach; and she is now a beloved deacon, servant, and mentor in her church and neighborhood.
In Craig Barne’s book Sacred Thirst, the pastor, author, and professor entitles one chapter “It’s Not About You.” People who believe it’s all about “me” lose perspective, he says. As a leader’s focus to be less about self improves, that leader can begin to relax, let go, and experience some of what I observe in Helen’s life.
God is forever trying to teach His people the paradox of leadership. One wonderful hero of the Old Testament who had to learn it was Moses: the reluctant leader. When God called him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, away from persecution and trouble and into the Promised Land, Moses resisted. In Exodus 3:11, balking at God’s instructions to lead, Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
There follows (in Exodus 3-4) a conversation between God and Moses in which Moses attempts to shirk the assignment. Yes, but what if . . . I don’t speak well . . . someone else could do it much better. God responds, “I will be with you.” My plan, God is saying, is to help you at every turn. Moses had to leave looking only at himself—his fear, his reluctance, his inadequacies—and turn to and trust God, and he had to learn to let Aaron share the responsibility and the limelight.
A good leader knows leadership by definition is about others (ultimately about God), not oneself. A good leader sees beyond self to participate fully in the assignment, to use all God-given gifts and talents, and to experience fully the life God provides. Ultimately in business, church, families, neighborhoods, politics . . . the good leader proves to be a good follower, continually accepting the invitation to participate in something God already is doing.