I once had a mentor say to me, “Blessed are those who are called to lead for they will be shot down.”
I could not agree more.
At the time, I had not pastored long, nor experienced some of the challenges of leadership that I have faced today. I did not understand the cost of leadership, nor could I comprehend why, in both Biblical times and today, a high percentage of leaders do not finish well.
People can often forget that leaders are flawed. We forget that most, if not the best of them, did not pursue the role of leadership…it found them.
Leadership found David taking care of sheep in a field when Samuel the prophet came to anoint him as the next King of Israel.
Leadership found Moses when he was watching his father-in-law’s herd. In this place, God commissioned him – sending him to deliver His people out of Egypt.
Leadership found Peter fishing. Jesus spoke to him, calling Him to become a fisher of men.
This has been my story with leadership. I did not choose it, it found me. I was content with loving God and living my own life, but Jehovah-sneaky had other plans. He moved me into a pastor role in 2005 and, by His grace, I have continued to move forward in this role to this day (honestly, without His grace I would have been out a long time ago).
No one told me about the cost of leadership. No one told me friendly fire was real. I had no idea that I needed to manage other people’s expectations of me. That, at the end of the day, I am responsible to clean up messes that I didn’t even make. Welcome to Leadership 101.
After a decade of leading mighty men and women in Isla Vista, I have learned a valuable lesson that has kept me free from offense and kept my heart always yearning for more of King Jesus. It is a simple lesson really, but one you could never get from reading a book, listening to a sermon, or from someone else’s experience. This lesson comes no other way except through God’s school of adversity. The same school David, Moses, and Peter attended. The one that all leaders and strong believers in Jesus have stayed in while others have jumped ship. Like John eating the scroll in Revelation, this lesson may seem like honey to the mouth but its a bit bitter in the stomach:
The lesson is this: in the words of Paul, “So death works in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:12)
For leadership to work, we have to give up our rights, our very life, that others may experience life. We have to be willing to take the low road so others can take the higher road. We need to make ourselves flexible while most people in life remain inflexible. To one who is in love with Jesus, this is a joyful truth, though sometimes hard in practice.
“Blessed are those who are called to lead for you will be shot down.” It is a fact of life that leaders are not always treated with honor and love. Take heart that God uses all things for good because it is the school of adversity that builds character and prepares us to run the distance in Jesus. If you’re a leader today reading this, know that death in you will produce life in those around you. Give up your life and rights, and know that the altar is a place of worship, not something we need to fear. We can trust that when Jesus said, “it’s more blessed to give than receive,” He knew something about how life flows. The more we give up our life the more we find the life we were created for.