No one tells you that leadership has its costs. While everyone is scrambling to get to the top, they often discover, once they’re there, that the top isn’t exactly what it’s all cracked up to be! There’s a reason Spiderman’s uncle says, “With power comes great responsibility”!
In this summer’s book, Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders outlines some of the costs of leadership as:
– Pressure and Perplexity
– Cost to Others
Reading over the list, you may wonder if it’s worth it. I’ve felt each of these costs acutely at one time or another in both my spiritual and professional leadership roles, and I confess there have been times when I have looked up to the heavens and wondered what I had gotten myself into!
The fact is, you’re a leader too. Being a Christian immediately puts you into a leadership role because you have influence over others. When people find out you’re Christian, they suddenly put on their “judgement-colored” glasses and watch and wait for you to do something to affirm their preconceived notions about Christians. Being Christian means you’re an emissary for Christ whether you like it or not.
So, since you are willingly or unwillingly in a leadership role, how do you deal with the costs? I’m going to tell you a little bit how I’m affected by each, and then I’m going to tell you why, in spite of these costs, I do what I do.
Self-Sacrifice – After starting He’s the Solution Ministries, I realized that couldn’t wing my Sunday morning messages. Unlike my business acumen, real estate chops, and my penchant for facts and figures, the Sunday messages didn’t just come to me. I had to work for them. Each Sunday night, I carve out large amounts of time to read, research, study, and pray over the message. I then roll out of bed early Sunday morning, pray again, and give the message.
Loneliness – Being at the top is lonely, there is no doubt about it. When I started my own company, I found out very quickly that you can’t be a friend and a boss at the same time. The same goes for my ministry. I have a deep compassion for my employees, clients, and members of the He’s the Solution community. I care deeply about their troubles and I fellowship with them, but as far as bosom buddies is concerned, it doesn’t compute in a leadership role.
Fatigue – They say, “The world is run by weary men” and I can believe it. Being a leader is tiring. The weight of the entire business and ministry is heavy and rest is rare in this role.
Criticism – When I first announced He’s the Solution Ministries, I found out very quickly who was nonplussed about the venture. I got lots of emails from people who were annoyed that my email was “tainted” by a Christian message and advised me to “not quit day job.” I wasn’t surprised about the push back, but I was surprised at the vitriol behind the push back. I can say, though, that it made the ministry all the more relevant. As much as I needed God’s blessings and word, clearly others did too!
Rejection – People don’t like being told what they are doing is wrong. They don’t like corrective measures and therefore, the Christian message can be a challenging one. I’ve lost friends, colleagues, and clients over my ministry and have found that rejection is a natural part of leadership.
Pressure and Perplexity – Life doesn’t get easier when you become Christian and put God first. Instead, you have much more pressure to understand God’s will and put it into the correct action. That takes a lot of discernment and prayer.
Cost to Others – When you lead, people follow and that is a full-time job and responsibility. Ministry leadership, like business leadership, can take a toll on the people closest to you. As the pastor Fred Mitchell said, “The harvest is great and the laborers few…” Because of this, there are many times when I miss out on family experiences because I’m working on the ministry or business.
You may look at this and say “Nuts to that.” But I will tell you why, in light of all these challenges, I would not have it any other way. I have had more clarity and understanding in every aspect of my life since I took up the ministry. My business, my relationships with my wife and kids, my conversations with my parents, and my interactions with my staff and clients have improved exceedingly. My prayers have changed in both quantity and quality and I have a God-centered focus that I never had before. Because of this, I have surrounded myself by people who feel the same way and that, in itself, has been a huge benefit.
I have found that all of these costs are really blessings in disguise and each one has honed me as a believer and follower of God.
If you’re worried about the costs, give them over to God. I guarantee that He will encourage you and shoulder your leadership burdens, while also sharpening you as a more effective tool for the faith.