The Greatest Burden of Leadership

The burden of responsibility is light compared to the burden of insufficiency, inability, or just plain failure.

There are many parts of leadership I find difficult. It is difficult to bear the responsibility of charting vision and deciding between different directions; it is difficult to resolve interpersonal conflict; difficult to motivate people to rally around a particular vision; difficult to have to ask forgiveness for making poor decisions; difficult to be ultimately responsible for the well-being of people and organizations.

 

If it is difficult to be a leader, it is far more difficult to be a good leader. If there are challenges that come to those who lead, there are far greater challenges that come to those who wish to lead well. This is exactly why we have such deep respect for leaders who are exemplary, for leaders who lead with skill. This is exactly why our bookshelves are overflowing with titles on becoming better leaders, on leading with confidence and vision and character, on leading like Steve Jobs, or Abraham Lincoln, or Jesus Christ.

There are a number of areas in which I have had to take on a position of leadership. I am a husband to a wife and a father to three children and called by God to lead them. I am an elder within a church and called to exercise leadership there. I run a little blogging enterprise and have to lead various people who support me in this. In all these areas I need to set direction and provide oversight and resolve disputes and solve problems. In all these areas I need to care for people and lead them in ways consistent with the Word of God.

There are many parts of leadership I find difficult. It is difficult to bear the responsibility of charting vision and deciding between different directions; it is difficult to resolve interpersonal conflict; difficult to motivate people to rally around a particular vision; difficult to have to ask forgiveness for making poor decisions; difficult to be ultimately responsible for the well-being of people and organizations.

But I believe the greatest difficulty of all is the knowledge that I am leading poorly. It’s the knowledge that I am not leading as well as I could or as well as I wish I would. The burden of responsibility is light compared to the burden of insufficiency, inability, or just plain failure. If all those other weights are heavy, this is the one that threatens to be crushing.

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