I posted this earlier this year (back in May) but I was freshly reminded about it the other day. I dusted off the older version and updated a bit. God seemed to think it was timely in my life, and I hope it is in yours as well.
The other night at a family get-together my father said something about me that I immediately recognized as truth.
I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to hear it. But it was truth.
Now, my father didn’t mean anything by it; I don’t think he meant it in a bad or negative way, but I sure took it that way, and it stung. It was like holding a mirror up and seeing something that I didn’t want to see.
That little incident got me to thinking about the nature of leadership and how we have to be open to the truth about us. Jesus had a real knack for saying truthful things that no one wanted to hear. Think about Luke 14 where he’s excoriating the religious elite for their arrogance, injustice, and disobedience. That was a group of people that didn’t want to hear the truth, but Jesus gave it anyway.
Always Be Ready To Hear Truth
A Christian leader has to be constantly ready to hear the truth about themselves. Far too often we begin to think of ourselves as on the top of our game and we forget that we are fallible, sinful humans that screw up nearly as often as we have opportunity. Instead of thinking of ourselves as superman saving the day we need to remember that we are really just an innocent bystander on the street needing to be saved.
The Danger of Not Hearing the Truth
If we’re not open to hearing the truth about ourselves, we get stuck in an alternate reality where everything is fine, we’re chugging along okay, and nothing’s wrong, especially with us.
My suspicion is that many leaders who fall into trouble allow themselves to get into these kinds of mind-sets. Maybe they’ve surrounded themselves with people who won’t tell them the truth, or perhaps they lead with fear and no one wants to tell them the truth; maybe people are trying to talk into their lives, but they aren’t listening. In any of these cases, they don’t want to hear the truth about themselves.
This is a mind-set that a Christian leader can’t afford to be in.
How Can We Be More Open To Hearing The Truth About Ourselves?
In order for us to grow we have to be challenged. Usually that involves knowing where we are less than optimal and growing in that area. In order to do that, we have to keep an open heart to those things that we aren’t so good at. Having this attitude all the time helps when other people tell us things about us that we don’t want to hear.
Be it a partner, or a group, or whatever, make sure that you invite someone to speak into your life and tell you the hard things; and more importantly, listen to them.
Romans 12 tells us to not think more highly of ourselves than we should. By staying humble, we don’t get so full of ourselves that we can’t hear what people are saying to us. Staying thankful for what Jesus has done for us helps us to remember just who we are in the grand scheme of things, keeping us open to the possibility (however small) that we are still flawed human beings.
Seek Different Voices
It might be tempting to surround yourself with sycophants that will tell you what you want to hear, but in the end all it does it give you an alternate reality that acts like a wall to the truth. Make sure you aren’t surrounding yourself with yes-men (or women). You need voices of discord.
Seek God’s Voice in Other People
So often God brings other people into our lives in order to speak truth to us. Arrogant, self-centered leaders often miss these people because they are convinced of their own superiority; they feel they don’t need other people, or that other people have nothing to offer them. Often though, God speaks through the most unlikely of people. We have to be open enough to His voice that we hear it.