Are You Showing or Telling?

“Lord, it’s good to stop and reflect on how I am doing as a leader and where I need to grow. Like Paul, I want to press on toward the goal, experiencing the transforming power of Your salvation, and reflecting Your presence in my life. Meet me in the places where I need to grow more like Jesus. I want to be more like Him. It’s in His name I pray, Amen.” – Lead Like Jesus, July 18, 2012, Philippians 3:14

leadership (Photo credit: Ed Gaillard)

In writing, we talk a lot about showing and not telling, and it should be this way in life, too. As a leader and a follower, I want to do well in both areas of my life. Are we showing people we can lead or follow? Or are we telling them how to do it instead?

Today’s Lead Like Jesus spoke about our communication with people and the examples we are living as Christian leaders. There are areas of my life where I am a follower and areas where I lead. In both, I want to excel. Not everyone can lead. Not everyone can follow. We speak of these two areas as if they are separate; as if a person is only doing one or the other when in fact all of us are doing both.

When we go to work every day, we become a follower. We have bosses who override our decisions. Sometimes, we may disagree with our bosses, but our job isn’t to be the boss; our job is to follow our boss’ lead. That’s what we are being paid to do every day. If its unfair or the job lacks integrity, we have the freedom to quit, or to work through the issues and find a reasonable solution. At times, we are called to step up and be leaders whether in ministry or at work.

Lead Like Jesus says regarding leadership:

“What are your growth points as a leader? Are you struggling to exalt God instead of edging Him out? Are you exercising authority over others or serving them? Are you demanding performance from others without meeting them at their developmental level? Are you regularly engaging in solitude, Scripture, and prayer, abiding in God’s unconditional love, and pursuing trusting relationships with others?”

My former boss at Bank of America was the epitome of servant leadership. I don’t know if he was a Christian or not, but his example inspired me. He grew my confidence as a young woman. His door was always open for suggestions, and he listened well. There were no electronic gadgets distracting him. He leaned forward and his eyes stayed on me. I gave suggestions and some of them he implemented. He didn’t try to take credit for them. Because of the heavy stresses of his job, this man eventually stepped down due to health issues. We all mourned the loss because as a servant leader he kept all the pressures from upper management off of us. It made for a very happy department. A good leader listens well and doesn’t treat people as if they are below him.

That’s what I looked for in future jobs and what I have now in my present job. While at my job, I must be a good follower; in my ministry life, I must look to the good examples around me and exercise good, servant leadership and this includes seeking solitude with God. It includes prayer and scripture reading, and like Lead Like Jesus pointed out, “abiding in God’s unconditional love.”  Am I showing or telling as a follower or leader? Am I letting my own agenda seep into areas of my life where it doesn’t belong? Am I listening? Am I serving well?