“Self-leadership. Nobody—I mean nobody—can do this work for us. Every leader has to do this work alone, and it isn’t easy. In fact, because it’s such tough work most leaders avoid it. We would rather try to inspire or control the behaviour of others than face the rigorous work of self-reflection and inner growth.”
— BILL HYBELS
Where is the flow of our lives headed? Toward growth or retreating into stagnation? We are doing one or the other through every infinitesimal stage of our lives.
Nothing of what we do in our existence is truly passive.
Having been asked which people gave him the most trouble, D.L. Moody, the 19th Century evangelist and minister, said, “I’ve had more trouble with D.L. Moody than any person alive.” That speaks volumes for the problems we all have with our very own selves when we are being honest. Not that we dislike ourselves, but deep-rooted problems emerge from the ‘ours truly’ more often than from any other single person we know. And despite how much we would like to change ourselves, we are limited in the power of change, unless we give God permission to change us by his grace.
The facts revealed upon self-reflection bear themselves on us when we are honest, and everyone seeking to grow has the same opportunity. For one moment there is the scary thought—“Who am I?”—yet it’s quickly replaced with—“Okay... all is good, again.”
Asking the Bigger Questions
None of us are comfortable asking the tough questions of ourselves; ever. But we can get to a position where we can instinctually surrender in doing it by knowing it’s inherently good for us to do.
In many ways, in getting to a position where we can routinely carry the weight of self-exposure we gather strength against what seems an indomitable fear. If anything is going to make us fearful it’s us about ourselves. We don’t want to be vulnerable because it means there is both an unknown attached and a cost—both are undesirable. But when self-exposure no longer concerns us we are able to be vulnerable in a sensible sort of way.
When we have no fear for what God might reveal through us when we are vulnerable, we live with a humble boldness that aligns without fear to the truth. We welcome whatever God’s will is. Our agendas are stripped away and our lack of orchestration of the events of our lives is testament to our faith—we are being rewarded.
Good self-leadership is the fundamental cornerstone of the effective leadership of people. The best fathers, mothers, bosses, and authority-figures are deeply relational, firstly with themselves, holding to a high self-account. This is the toughest work—to be honest with ourselves. But it’s also the most rewarding of all work, because we work on ourselves with God’s undeniable help.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.