When Leaders Fail At Leading, What Next?

I’ve been changing lately, or at least I like to think I am. I don’t like changing, or having realizations about myself, because it usually means that someone else was right and I was wrong. So I ponder it and try to justify myself out of it and make up for myself some excellent excuses as to why it took me so long so come around. One our conversation rules at theStory is that everyone has the grace to change their mind, so I’m going to take some of that grace. Maybe even tonight, but probably not.

In being a leader of sorts, part of my role is to help set a vision, or a goal and help bring the people that are choosing to follow me to that place. At least that’s what I think it is. This is my confession: most times I end up getting way to ahead of myself and end up setting goals and ideas for people and then get upset that they aren’t meeting my expectations and moving at my pace. There are two examples that come to mind that have made me realize that this is the case. The first one is a bit juvenile, but you would be surprised at how much it has affected me. I hate macs, apple computers, and I don’t want anyone using them. Anyone who was working with me or for me I would get very frustrated that they wouldn’t do things my way. It was easier for me to fix. It was better, more efficient, cheaper, more customizable and I had a long running list. The more I yelled and got frustrated at the people who were supposedly following me (in my business or tech worlds) the more I saw people switching over to these machines with glowing apples. Everyone came to me for help, but no one would listen to me.

The second example is with moving into community. I’ve got a running list longer than my hate list against Apple machines as to why I think living in community with each other in simplicity is a good and beautiful way to live as a Christian. I was lead to believe that in being a leader, you just have good ideas and if it’s a good idea then people do it. This proved a little bit troublesome for me. Half the people thought it was a good idea, patted me on the back, admired my passion but wanted nothing to do with it. The other half just think it’s a horrible idea and want nothing to do with it. I was basically stuck with two groups of people who want nothing to do with what I think is a brilliant idea. Frustrating.

I still wonder how the hell things get done? I feel like sometimes that when I hear a good idea I’m the first person to jump on board and help that person get that thing done, or attempt to change my life to better align with Christ. I’m probably not, but I feel like I am at times.  I struggle with this a lot. If one of my roles is to be an idea person, then what am I doing wrong if no one listens to the ideas? If one of my roles is to help lead people to look more like Christ, what do I do when people at least look like they are listening but don’t go anywhere? Maybe that’s not my role? Maybe I need a better understanding of what my role is?  If it wasn’t for me pushing and whining and being “that guy” that everyone knows how he’s going to answer or respond, then I wonder where the fight for good would actually come in? Am I really expected to sit around and wait and keep my mouth shut and let people come to grips with truth on their own? What kind of role do I play in helping people move along?

A few years back I read a book that I should have listened to. Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I underlined half the book, but I think I failed to apply any of it to my own life. It just became academic jargon about how to handle people groups that I may never come into contact with. I’ve been going back and reading it, and things are sticking out to me that directly apply to my situation.

“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”
– Paulo Freire

Oops. Looks like I’m starting over, again.

One Comment

  • Dude, you have to read Eugene Peterson’s “Pastor” – life changing. Have you read any of his stuff on pastoring and leading? I’m trying to work my way through his trilogy on pastoring. His autobiography just came out a couple of days ago. I think you guys @ the Story would really like it.

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