Leadership Influence: Leadership That Matters

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Leadership Influence: Leadership That Matters

When my kids were little, I sometimes used what they called my “Loud Voice.”  It often came out when we needed to hurry. 

One morning, I was hurrying us out the door so I could get to work. Because i was tired and frustrated, my Loud Voice entered into the fray.  My oldest son got out the door as quickly as he could, while my youngest began to cry.  I looked at him in increased frustration until his words stopped me: “Your Loud Voice scares me.”

By this time, we were all crying, and very late. I apologized, gave him a hug, and we were off.

But it wasn’t over.

That evening, I sat both boys down and told them I was sorry.  I wasn’t just sorry: I was wrong.  As the adult, I should allow enough time for us to get ready.  As their Mom, I should know how long it takes us to get out the door and into the car.  As a Christian, I should not use my power to make them feel that their actions justify my bad behavior.

It was important that day--and many times in the years that followed--for me to take clear responsibility for my actions and apologize to my children. I should hold myself to the same level of accountability for my actions to which I hold them.  If I want my children to be better parents than I am, I need to model honesty and humility when I’m wrong.

This element of leadership is largely missing in the world today.  Most leadership books I read, including those written by “church people,” focus on casting a vision, diagnosing problems, managing different communication styles, etc. 

However, leadership is more than not taking credit for other people’s good work or blaming them when something goes wrong.  Good leadership includes the courage and strength to confess when I’m wrong and have abused my power.

That’s what I like about the story of David in 1 Samuel 24:1-15.  David had every right to be angry with Saul and exert his authority. Kudos to David for not killing Saul in that cave when he had the chance. Congratulations for recognizing that cutting off a piece of Saul’s cloak was wrong and was done to humiliate Saul.

But the real act of leadership was David’s confession in front of his men.

David’s act of humility set an example for what he expected of his men. In a culture where strength and power were valued above all else, David chose a different way.  David modeled that in his kingdom, integrity mattered.

We are all leaders somewhere. Anyone who stands in line at the grocery store and is kind (even when the cashier is not) demonstrates leadership in their patient humility.  

Casting a vision, diagnosing problems, and managing people are important, but true leadership that will shape our families, our churches and our communities is founded in respect and humility.

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This story originally appeared on Michelle Heinrich's blog, "Life in the Labyrinth," and was submitted as part of The High Calling theme Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype.

Michelle writes, "My passion is to help people find their story in God’s Word--and then to bring God’s Word into conversation with the everyday nature of their lives." She is a second career pastor, having worked as a CPA for over a decade, and is currently seeking a call as Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

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Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype

When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.

Photo by Tim Miller. Used by permission. Photo design by Jennifer Dukes Lee.