When I first got saved I used to look at leaders as if they were God Himself. I thought they were super-spiritual people who floated through life on a cloud of anointing that allowed them to do everything perfectly. I thought they had ALL the answers, surely they must have a direct line to the throne room of heaven, where everything stood still when THEY prayed?

Now I find myself in a position of leadership and most days I can’t quite understand why God called me to this, but I have frequently said (in the words of the old song) “here I am ready, available”. I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

It’s been an interesting journey. As I’ve settled into the role there have been lessons learned along the way. It’s only recently, after being intentional in my own development, that I’ve sat down and actually put pen to paper to record what I’ve learned.

I will never be a perfect leader

There’s only one Perfect Leader. The best I can ever do is to walk in His shadow and follow His lead. Yes, I have a responsibility to grow and stretch myself if I’m to encourage those I lead to stretch and grow, but to try to attain perfection is to put myself under immense pressure, and only serves to feed the pride that can live in my heart. It’s a road to failure, disillusionment, and burn out. Don’t go there!

The perfect team doesn’t exist

We are all imperfect, blemished and scarred.
People bring with them life’s baggage. No one is ever in the penultimate place to serve. It’s a good job as we’d all fall short of the invitation.

Each one of us is fearfully and wonderfully created, with strengths that were sewn into us by the hands that created the universe. When these strengths are used outside of their specified area they can become a Hindrance. Part of our life’s journey is to seek out what these strengths and gifts were intended for and then put them to work in the fullness of our calling.

I cannot make everyone happy

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I am not responsible for other people’s happiness. This strong desire I have to make everything ok for them is unrealistic and hinders their own personal growth. If I always try to save them from conflict and challenges, how will they learn to deal with these situations? I short-change them, and do them no favors.

I must make time for my creativity

In the busyness of running a department, admin, relationships, juggling family responsibilities, and being faithful in my workplace, it is easy to lose my space for creativity. I run the risk of becoming all Martha, with very little Mary in the mix. It’s imperative that in the same way I make time to nurture my love for my husband, I do the same with the Lover of my soul. It is out of these times that revelation comes, and the strategies for growth are released. New songs are written to build up and release faith and hope. It’s easy to tell God “I’m busy, I’ll be with you soon, but right now I’m doing this for You because I love You” when all He really wants is for me to hang out and talk n sometimes even use words!

People won’t always “get” me

I am a very open-hearted person. I wear my heart on my sleeve for all to see. The very thing that allows me to be prophetic and sensitive to the spirit of God one day, can cause me to want to curl up and quit another. This isn’t wrong unless it prohibits my trusted friends and leaders from speaking into my life. I’ve learned that some just don’t get this kind of approach. They’re not wrong and neither am I. People who don’t tick this way will handle their emotions differently. It doesn’t mean they don’t have the same feelings or struggles. It’s all going on in them, but maybe not so visibly. We must allow each other to respond to life, faith, etc., in our own way.

If I want to grow, I must be intentional

Life and leadership experiences teach valuable lessons along the way, however I have found that being intentional in my pursuit of growth brings an acceleration to my own growth.

I made the decision after a key leaders’ meeting a few months ago that I needed more than a once a month lesson. I made arrangements to meet with someone who teaches and manages people in a corporate setting. I needed to unpack some of what he was teaching a bit more. What was said wasn’t rocket science, but my coach had the knack of asking the right questions to get me thinking outside of the box.

I’ve spent a couple of hours with people who know me well, are on my team but also in leadership and who I know will tell it like it is, and they have. It’s important to do this kind of exercise with someone you trust and respect. It’s no good going to your best friend who will tell you what you want to hear; the only thing that grows that way is our ego!

I also spent some time with a spiritual father who has known me and seen my growth over a number of years. He’s not in my church so is completely neutral in his observations and input.

All of these meetings have made a massive difference in how I approach my team and how I feel about myself as a leader. There’s something about being proactive that empowers me to rise to the challenge of stretching that will bring me to a new place of leadership.

Ecclesiastes tells us there is a “season for everything”. Good days, bad days, successes, failures, mountains, valleys, popularity, loneliness, etc. He also says “He makes all things beautiful in its time”.

Leadership is a journey, and for me to be the best leader I can be, I have to keep growing and changing. It’s the same for all of us. What are you doing to develop as a leader?