If it were always easy to be a leader, I suppose everyone would be a leader.
I was volunteering for Field Day at South Euless Elementary School, a school we have adopted as a church. We mentor kids, run a once-a-week after-school program, and many other things.
It has been a joy and blessing to connect with this school and to get to know students, teachers, and staff.
One of the staff is in the picture above. Field Day was a wet, muddy affair. This has been the wettest May on record in Texas, and Field Day was just un-rainy enough to go on.
Go on, it did. Kids were running, jumping, laughing, playing in the mud; just as you would expect kids to do. Before they entered the school building, though, this staff person was hosing them down. It was hard to tell who was enjoying it more.
Now, I want you to know this particular staff member happens to be the Principal, Randy Belcher. Wearing a sport coat, khakis and dress shoes, he wasn’t dressed to be hosing down muddy kids.
But by every measure, Principal Belcher is a leader, and leaders do what needs to be done. Some leaders might delegate everything and keep themselves above the fray. In my experience, this kind of leader ends up with less people following him or her.
In other words, if I were a teacher, I would want to be a teacher serving under the leadership of a Principal who wasn’t afraid to get dirty hosing mud off of kids at Field Day.
This is the kind of leader I want to be.
This is also the kind of leader Jesus was. In fact, Jesus being the existence of God incarnate in human flesh is exactly this kind of leadership. I suppose there would have been a way for God to maintain the distance from us and lead us. But that’s not the way God chose to lead.
Thank you, Mr. Belcher, for this help in understanding leadership, and especially for help in understanding the kind of leadership God offers us in Jesus Christ.
I did much more listening than talking in this particular conversation, but that’s not what made it sad or disturbing.
I was visiting with someone considerably older than I and someone who is close to death. This person is aware that death is near, and is, for the most part, at peace with this knowledge.
So I listened to quite a few stories. Like most of us, this person tells stories about success and accomplishment. This person has quite a history of leadership.
This person also has quite a history of brokenness. Raised by parents, various counties, and extended family, this person fought through this adversity to, as the stories tell it, successfully raise 4 kids.
I really wanted to find a story of healthy relationship or hope, so I asked, “You’re obviously quite a leader. Where did you learn your leadership abilities?”
It didn’t take 2 seconds before a rather sharp, strong, “Myself!” was blurted out as an answer.
Which really saddens me.
I don’t know exactly where I rank on any leadership scale, but I know the value of leadership. I’m pretty sure I’ve learned and grown a great deal in my leadership abilities since my first ministry job in 1984.
A lot of that learning and growth has been pushing and stretching and trying and failing. Myself.
But almost everything I’ve tried and failed (or succeeded) and most everything that has pushed, pulled, or stretched me has some source outside myself.
I believe recognizing this makes me a better leader.
Whatever leadership I have gained, it has all come in knowing that I am, at the same time, following someone else.
So, while there is an “I” in leadership, there is no “me.”
I hope I find the grace to offer this the next time I have a conversation with this person.
Here is a striking example of the kind of (un)leadership we have in Washington D.C.: Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said, of the failed bail-out bill yesterday, ?Most of us say, ‘I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it, not me.'”
If you want something to pass, vote FOR it. If voting for it costs you an election, but is the right thing to do, that’s what we call leadership.