I was listening to a T.D. Jakes sermon this morning while on the treadmill and he said that “with new levels come new devils.” He went on to explain that success and leadership are actually very painful and arrive with a whole new set of things to overcome. When God has placed a calling on your life He sets out to equip you for it. This usually involves challenges and circumstances that will bring you to your knees. When you are in God’s leadership training you don’t actually know it at first, you don’t get a letter in the mail, no email comes, no memo, no warnings. Life just starts to kick the crap out of you, challenges come at you, people betray you, and relationships disappoint you. You navigate each situation and you get stronger. Every time you pick yourself up, you keep going and you never quit. Then one day you look back and see that there was a reason for all of those things
Success is often viewed as leadership. People in positions of leadership are seen as having ‘made it’ in some way. They are thought to be the winners, the ones that have reached their goals and achieved some modicum of prosperity.
A lot of people want to be Leaders; they envision that being a Leader is important, filled with glory and has a lot of perks…perhaps they even think that being a Leader is where the ‘money’ is. The truth? Being a Leader, is in fact, more difficult than any other task. Being a good or great Leader? That requires more work than most people can even fathom.
In order to lead you must be able to follow…happily and humbly. You must be able to take direction and work within someone else’s framework even if you think you could do it better. If you can’t follow someone else then NOBODY will ever follow you, no matter how amazing you perceive yourself to be. This is an important skill to instill in young people, the act of following happily and humbly. I promise you that every great Leader began by following someone else first.
To lead successfully you must also lead by example, you must first have done the task that you now wish to entrust to someone else. You must have executed that task to fully learn how to do it with excellence and to understand what it feels like to do that particular thing. If you want to order people around then you better be coming from a place that includes already doing that work, otherwise people will not do as you ask and they will resent you. If you think you are too good to clean windows or toilets or empty trash, then I suggest you remember where you came from and I suggest that you don’t imagine that someone “beneath” you should do those things.
I don’t care who you are or who you think you are—nobody is beneath you and you are not better than anyone else on this planet. You may be different and you may have more advanced skills and you may make more money, however you are not ‘better’ than any other human being. God created all of us equal and to be a great Leader you will do well to remember this and to treat people accordingly.
Real Leaders want to build people up and help them get to the next level in their lives; Leaders know that their job is to leave this planet better than they found it. They make it their business to INSPIRE other people, not make fun of them or put them down.
I see so many people trying to succeed and trying to lead and they just seem to keep forgetting the source of true leadership which is to lead by example. You must first FOLLOW the disciplines that you wish to teach, you must walk the walk and succeed there before anyone will listen to you. Sure, you can lead without doing this and whatever you are trying to do will not hold water, eventually it will collapse on top of you and you won’t prosper to your full ability.
You can’t sleep late, live like a pig, be rude, make fun of people, and lack self-discipline and then get dressed up and go and tell people how to be a success. People may look like they are listening, yet you will lack the authenticity needed to produce results. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. You can even put eye shadow and a dress on it, but it is still a pig.
Gandhi said “be the change in the world that you want to see”, that is really good advice.
Be authentic and don’t try to teach people things that you haven’t already walked through.