Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How to be a Life-Giving Leader: Lesson Four

Reentry after the holidays has been difficult for me this year. That is probably mostly due to the birth of our third baby--he's doing great but still not sleeping through the night. I'm one of those people who needs uninterrupted sleep to feel normal, and we haven't been getting that for the past six weeks or so. Not that I'm complaining. Ezekiel is amazing and I'd gladly trade all my sleep to have him as my son.

Back to the task at hand. I've been writing about life-giving leaders, and what it takes to lead in such a way that others' hearts come alive. So far we've talked about trust, empowerment, and encouragement. These are all things that life-giving leaders do. But there's something that a leader must be, and that is secure in who he is. In other words, a life-giving leader gets his identity (and senses of well-being, significance, etc.) from God.

Consider the behaviors that come with deep-rooted insecurity. Manipulation. Discouraging words. Control. Anger. Self-aggrandizement. Lashing out at others. Think about how you behave in your moments of insecurity. It's fascinating how insecurity breeds self-centeredness. It's only when we're secure in who we are that we're free to forget ourselves and see the best in others.

Having a strong sense of identity in Christ, and finding security there, is what enables you to be a life-giving leader. When you're racked by insecurity, you are, by definition, focused on yourself and your own needs; and when you're focused on yourself, your attention is given to breathing life into your own soul. And when someone (or something, or some circumstances) threaten the breathing of life into your soul, you become a death-dealing leader. You lash out in self-protection.

But leaders who are secure in themselves (because they know who they are in Christ) receive their life from Christ himself, a conduit which no man can threaten. Being relieved of the heavy task and fools' errand of attempting to breathe life into their own souls, they are then free to breathe life into the hearts and souls of others. Through their security, they serve as a conduit of life from Jesus to others.

The key is to pursue a strong sense of your identity in Christ. Let him define you. Let him name you. There is no surer rock than the words of Jesus, so you need to put yourself into a position to hear from him. Let him rebuild your strength and confidence. Rest in the knowledge that "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ." Be secure in Jesus, and you will find the freedom of soul to be a life-giving leader.

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