‘Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.’ – Pubilius Syrus.
As Christians and leaders, we are quick to look at our role of leadership as our influence and impact on those around us. And this is right. We are looking for the next way to grow our team, campus, or ministry, and are convinced that the way we interact with and lead others is critical to this. And it is.
However, in doing this, we can often neglect the most important person we will lead. The person God has given us the most care over, and the one who is the most critical to our continued growth and development as followers of Christ.
The first person you lead is yourself. In truth, any failure to lead yourself well will cripple your chances of leading, helping, or discipling others.
So, here are a few quick things that have helped me in my quest for self-leadership.
1. Define success.
Being busy isn’t the same as being fulfilled.
We often let other people define what success looks like. Too often we live by (and for) the desires of our parents, boss, professor and a myriad of people other than ourselves. What you were designed for is unique! Your individual calling should mean your definition of success is also unique. Don’t let those around you decide what a good life should look like!
Philippians 3:7 -8 ESV
2. Don’t worry about execution, but direction.
Look at months not days.
It is critical to make sure you are headed in a direction that will build your LIFE, not just your feelings… A bad day or a bad week does not require a knee jerk reaction that could ultimately knock you off course just because you’re not where you want to be right now. Don’t just look at how today has gone – look at how this month has gone. Is your trajectory correct? Are you on course? Then stay the path – in spite of a setback… Your discipline in this area will lead to growth in other areas.
3. Take off the old man before putting on the new.
You can’t transform what you don’t engage.
We are often quick to adopt new habits, vocab, slogans and behaviours. We add them to our repertoire. We add them to the life we have built and carry on as if we are ready or anything.
But this is akin to slapping some new wallpaper on a wall that is chipped, fractured, and has mould growing on it.
An important part of the self-leadership process is highlighted in Ephesians 4
Ephesians 4:20-24 “But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Before we put on the new man, we must take off the old. We need to deal with the junk that comes to cling to our heart along the way. We need to remove old ways of thinking; bad habits, attitudes and prejudices that will hold us back. We can sweep the old behaviour under a new rug, but if we don’t ADDRESS it, rest assured, it will come back to bite.
4. Play the long game.
Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.
Be patient. In every action, moment, and self-conversation. Remember why you’re here. It most likely wasn’t predicated upon your feeling good in a single moment. Be humble. Let the credit go elsewhere. Resist the urge to be right. Embrace the call to give everything to see the Kingdom advance; for THAT is its own reward.
Your goal should be legacy over notoriety.
5. Ask for help.
Isolation exacerbates insecurity.
Be willing to grow. Ask for and listen to outside counsel. Seek out wisdom on areas you need to grow in. Ask without getting defensive. This should be a weekly pattern in every key area of your life. It is in relationship where life flourishes. The more you draw away from it, the more your own mind and flesh will play tricks on you. Fight that fleshly instinct and push on.
6. Spend time outside your comfort zone.
You only grow when you are at the edge of yourself.
I talk about this a lot. Getting out of your comfort zone is remarkably good for you at every level. It broadens your horizons, it sharpens your senses. Most importantly, it causes you to pay attention. It’s when that happens that you are open to and aware of new possibilities.
7. Don’t hold too tight.
The tighter you squeeze the less you hold.
Live with an open hand. Practice being grateful for what you have. Look for who else could be blessed by what you already have. The more you sow the more you will reap. The more open your hand, the more you’re able to receive.