One of the better leadership books I’ve read lately is Leading With a Limp by Dan Allender. Dan’s thesis is that God doesn’t use leaders who are strong and effective. Rather, God uses leaders who are open about their weaknesses and let God use these weaknesses. “God’s power is found in brokenness.” Allender suggests that leaders face, name, and publicly deal with their failures as a leader, and therefore create an environment of grace. “Prepare now to admit…that you are the organization’s chief sinner.” Allender writes:
If you’re a leader, you’re in for the battle of your life. Nothing comes easily, enemies outnumber allies, and the terrain keeps shifting under your feet. If you’ve already tried the “easy” solutions, you have found that they come up empty…Nothing is more difficult than leading.
Every organization, if it is made up of people, is dysfunctional. Some organizations are more dysfunctional than others, but they are all on a scale. And every leader is dysfunctional as well. I long for the type of leadership that Allender describes, and I think he’s right: the leader has to go first. When the leader self-identifies as a broken person with tendencies toward cowardice, rigidity, narcissism, hiding, or fatalism, and then publicly begins to deal with these dysfunctions, something powerful can happen. This is why leadership of any organization is hard. Leading the church may be even harder, given the spiritual dynamics and the unhealthy models of church that are so widespread today. My efforts to pretend I am up to the challenge are not usually successful. Thank God that he uses nutcases or else I would be in big trouble. My main challenge is to stay humble enough to be open about my weaknesses, and allow God’s strength to flow through them. Not a bad way to lead; not a bad way to live when you think about it.