Tag Archives: humility

Their Way Might be Better

I don’t know about you, but I live with an underlying pressure that I am supposed to have all of the answers and always know the right decisions to make. It doesn’t matter if I am at home, work or on the football field. When I was starting out as a young pastor, I believed that asking for help or admitting that I was unsure of what to do next was a certain sign of being a terrible leader. I can remember at times making up answers just to appear right and hoping that I seemed confident enough to thwart any potential questions. 


While I cannot say that the pressure has lessened at all, I can say that I do a better job lately of looking to others for help and answers. Even when I am in a role as leader, or maybe especially so, I look to my team for thoughts, insights, plans and ideas. It is ludicrous to think for even one moment that I might hold all of the answers. Even something as simple as finding my car can become an exercise in my natural desire to know everything. When my wife and I were dating, we attended a UCLA football game. Part of the parking lot at the Rose Bowl is on a golf course and we spent almost two hours walking in circles around the course searching for the car. On several occasions she pointed a different direction, but I confidently ignored her suggestions. When the tow trucks arrived on scene, I started to become genuinely worried and we eventually found the car…in the exact direction that she had suggested quite some time before. 

Through the pain of many decisions, I have come to this conclusion regarding the people in my life: their way might be better! Now, if only I always remembered this in the moment. The majority of my disagreements with my wife happen when I forgot this truth. Errors at work happen largely because I ignore this basic premise. So, let me share three problems with ignoring the premise and three benefits from heeding it.

Ignoring this premise leads to:

** a bottleneck of ideas and action. A leader who feels that he or she must know everything compels all activity to flow through themselves which causes a shut down of progress. 

** a sense of arrogance and entitlement on the part of the leader. What else could somebody feel if they know everything about everything?

** a level of stress and pressure that no person is designed to handle. The leader who knows everything must work very hard to maintain that illusion and increases stress everytime he or she must provide information that does not exist.

On the contrary, learning that their way might be better leads to:

** an empowerment of team members and a true sense of personal value which will naturally lead to greater collaboration and success for the team as a whole.

** an assortment of ideas, perspectives and actions to choose from that will inspire both creativity and innovation.

** a true releasing of others in their areas of strength…which should be an underlying value of all healthy leaders

This is not an easy task for me, nor do I believe that it is easy for you. It is humbling and challenging to admit that we might not have all of the answers. However, leadership is less about being right and more about encouraging and supporting others to accomplish their dreams. I can honestly say that one of my greatest joys happens when people have an “a-ha” moment…and this is impossible if I have to know all of the answers. 

~ Mike

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I am my Biggest Problem

Leadership must begin with me. Unfortunately, on my own, I want to stay up late, play video games, eat snacks and then sleep in. I get impatient, want to rush the process and can easily see people as being in the way of my agenda. Leadership would be so much easier if it wasn’t for my own selfish humanity. While it might seem that I just need to get more organized, set alarms and choose to like people, this only lasts for so long. I have learned that I need the wisdom of the Bible to have a chance at leading well. The principles of God are the only way I can grow and develop as a healthy and effective leader.

So, what does the Bible say about leading myself? While there are a great many things, here are four that I typically struggle with the most.

Self-control – Galatians 5:22-23 says that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. I find the name of this characteristic ironic since I clearly need the strength of God to have self-control. I can last for a while staying faithful to plans and dreams and needs that will set me up for healthy leadership. But it is only temporary because my humanity will kick in soon or later. Reliance on God allows me to last a bit longer before I indulge in too much ice cream or stay up far too late for anybody’s good.

Servanthood – Jesus takes the typical paradigm of leadership that involves working hard to look out for self and step on others to get to the top of the pyramid and flips it completely upside down. True leadership happens when I choose to serve others, look out for others first, and use my influence and experience to set those around me up for success. Easy? Not a chance, but I have seen this truth play out well time and time again.

Humility – is leadership really supposed to be about myself? At the end of the day do I care so much about my ego and image that I am willing to fight to be seen and heard? Unfortunately, this battle happens inside of me more often than I would care to admit. Thankfully, with age I have learned to at least mostly keep it inside. So often I have to fake it even when I never make it, but the Bible teaches that humility is truly the best way to lead.

Patience – admittedly, I saved the best for last. And by best, I mean the area of my biggest struggle. Whether it is in traffic, waiting for an email reply or just need Amazon Prime to fulfill my over-energetic, type-A needs, patience is definitely not a characteristic of leadership that I embrace well at all. I want everything done yesterday and I have spent the majority of my life waiting for God to catch up. Now, truth be told, He is always perfectly on time and hindsight confirms this fact, but I will probably struggle with this leadership trait every day of my life.

So, while this list is far too short, it is what I am working on to become a better biblically grounded leader. I want any influence I have to be used to advance God’s kingdom and to set others up for success in whatever they are called to do. The Bible is the ultimate book on leadership and hopefully this list helps jumpstart the same conversations in your life that it does in mine.

~ Mike

It’s Not About Me

Leaders fall into one of two basic categories: self-serving micromanagers who see people as tools for their own advancement, or servant leaders who take the time to set up others for success. While the first type might get bigger headlines at times, the second version is a sustainable leader who helps others get ahead. Not only would I prefer to follow a servant leader, but I desire to be one as well.

balloon glow

Most likely the greatest leader ever to walk the earth, Jesus Christ, provided a model of leadership based upon serving others rather than self. In John 13, the story of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples is shared. This job would typically have been reserved for the servants of the home, yet Jesus willingly set aside His outer garments, wrapped Himself in a towel, and washed the dirty and grimy feet of His shellshocked disciples. Then, in verse 15, He lands the teaching point – “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

I wish I could say that I have finally figured this out in my many years of ministry and leadership. However, that would not be true. Instead, this is something that I wrestle with consistently. My nature likes to be loud and in charge and I welcome the spotlight. I am not naturally able to say that it’s not about me, yet that is precisely the model that I desire to follow. So, how do I work on this each day?

First, I work to consider how I want to be treated and looked upon. Do I want to be a tool for somebody else’s advancement or a fellow collaborator on grand project? I would definitely take door #2 which means this is how I must look at others. How can I include them in a task or project? What do they have to share with the team that will bring success? How can I ensure they receive more praise for a successful project than I do?

Second, I must realize that I actually do not know everything, nor am I able to do everything. This point comes much easier to me as I spend a great deal of time at work knee deep in projects that are far beyond my skill set. This compels me to look to others for help, for knowledge, for some compassion. Humility is a characteristic that I can either embrace on my own or have it given to me. I have far too many stories where I avoided humility only for it to catch up to me in a highly humiliating manner. I would much rather admit my weaknesses and look to those who are further down the road with skills, education and experience.

Finally, I have realized after a lifetime in ministry leadership that rare is the leader who is able to stay in one place for their entire career. A healthy leader plans for a future without them. How do I set up my department and my projects to run smoothly should I not be there? I can only do this if I truly believe that it’s not about me. I want to work hard and own projects today while passing them off to others for a brighter tomorrow. This requires that I equip and release other leaders, not to mention trust them, so that they are ready to fill my shoes when the time comes.

When I am able to live this way, it drastically reduces my stress and allows me to celebrate the accomplishments of others. When leadership revolves around me, jealousy and envy rule the day. When I am a servant leader, I can fade to the background and watch team members bask in the glow of well-earned success. I must admit that while it is not always easy to get there, I would rather hold the balloon than be the balloon.

~ Mike

3 Ways To Learn From Brokenness

Brokenness – quite the word! It brings such thoughts of pain and loss and grief. The news communicates stories of brokenness on a daily basis. Our personal lives often have multiple themes of brokenness happening at once. I’m learning that brokenness is a process and it’s very similar to an onion – layer after layer after layer is peeled back; often these layers are not even seen or recognized until I am walking through them. Brokenness is tricky because it hides easily and seems to be gone only to pop up again very unexpectedly.

broken glass

So, how to deal with brokenness? Well, the first step is to identify where the breaks are – and that’s where I am right now. I can tell brokenness is there…and it’s bugging me and affecting me both personally and in ministry. The source of the brokenness is what I’m not sure of yet. It could be lingering church abuse or effects of the divorce or just the pain of life that I haven’t dealt with properly…who knows? The key is that I’m listening and searching and embracing input from others – I’m not okay with coming up short and losing…that’s not who I am!

Second, I must remember that my God has created me to be victorious – to be an overcomer – to be a leader and a minister. To care for others, to share Christ with people and to help draw people closer in their relationship with God. Brokenness can either pull and distract me from my call or lead me closer to Christ which fulfills my call with greater effectiveness. Jesus promises that His burden and His yoke are easy to bear – which gives me comfort that this isn’t His burden. Will I “fight” the brokenness in my own strength or turn to God and trust that He is still standing by my side?

broken item

This leads to the third step which is to live a life of humility. Brokenness reminds me that I’m not “all that” and that God has not created me to do this on my own – I can’t overcome brokenness by my own strength or even the strength of others. I must fall upon the mercy of God and allow Him to expose the source of the brokenness – it’s in my weakness that He is made strong. It’s in my pain and hurt and failing that I remember my dependence upon His goodness and love. I am a broken man; I am a flawed human – and this is where God shines! To pick me up, to dust me off and to allow me, by His grace, to become a source of hope for others who are broken like me.

Brokenness can lead to a strength and hope unknown in my life if I trust God, submit to him and allow the painful process of healing to continue. I’m nowhere near complete, but I refuse to stop in the middle of the process. I will run the race to completion – in my marriage, my family and my ministry. I will run and not look back, I will press on and embrace the future hope and destiny that God has for me.

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It’s never fun walking through the fire, being in the storm, stumbling in the darkness…yet, in the midst of the brokenness I can hear God – I feel His presence and I know that He is with me through the pain. Brokenness hurts, brokenness disrupts and brokenness often involves painful memories, hurtful scars and deep anguish. But God will not leave, He will not forsake, and He promises to make beauty out of ashes. I have experienced this, and continue to experience it, first-hand and God will do the same for you!