As a husband, father, pastor, and business leader I am amazed by the daily opportunities I am given to test my leadership. Leadership in many ways is overwhelming and exposes our strengths and our weaknesses. Leadership forces us to see that great families, great churches, great organizations, and great companies require far more than one “superstar”! When I think of “excellence” in leadership there is one passage in the scriptures that always comes to mind.
In 2 Timothy 2, the Apostle Paul is writing it to his young son in the faith, Timothy, and lays out several pictures of what it means for us to be leaders. Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:6, that leadership is like a hardworking farmer.
This is one of those realities that many leaders and parents try to avoid BECAUSE this is about DOING a lot of hard work and NOT SEEING IMMEDIATE RESULTS!!
Farming essentially is unglorious hard work. There are very few fans on the sidelines, if any! A farmer has to be patient for the crop to come in. And this is so hard for most of us. MOST of us really want to see INSTANT RESULTS. BUT in Farming… you have to… WAIT and WORK HARD!
In his book, Excellence in Leadership, author John White says this about Nehemiah, “Nehemiah shared hardship with the workers. His beard would be clogged with grit, his eyes red with dust while sweat would probably leave streaks down his cheeks. Spirituality is no substitute for sweat. Nehemiah’s organizing ability, his coolness under stress and his prayer would have been wasted had he not worked. Prayer may move mountains. But prayer and elbow grease are wonderful allies.” WHEN YOU’RE LEADING PEOPLE and when you’re parenting your kids, you and I don’t get instant gratification!
We’ve all probably heard the infamous quote from Thomas Edison before, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Leading, parenting, cultivating a thriving marriage, developing meaningful relationships… they all require hard work. They demand that we give our best.
But… pursuing excellence is different than pursuing perfection.
Many of us need to be reminded and “freed” from the burden of perfectionism.
I love how one author describes the difference, “Perfectionists can be devastated by failure; pursuers of excellence learn from it. Perfectionists remember mistakes and dwell on them; pursuers of excellence correct mistakes and learn from them.”
Pursuing excellence in the various leadership roles God has you in is not about being or becoming the “perfect” leader / spouse / parent / etc… It’s about clearly defining what excellence looks like in our God-given roles and putting in the hard work to BE and BECOME the kind of people God wants us to be in those roles.
If you haven’t read any good books recently on leadership I’d encourage you to check out these two classics:
Excellence in Leadership: Reaching Goals with Prayer, Courage and Determination, by John White
Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda, Revised and Expanded, by Henry T. Blackaby