You may have missed the conference. Don’t miss these.
by Dave Staal
1. Leadership requires courage in large amounts. And because Bill Hybels devoted his entire opening talk on this topic, it must be an issue for many other leaders and not just me. Whew, what a relief! Too often, leadership talks leave me feeling wildly inadequate to continue under the weight of an organization rather than motivated to make a difference. Speakers certainly don’t set out with that goal, but many messages share the ideal rather than what’s real. They can come just short of saying, “C’mon, it’s just that easy,” while leaving out the barriers and challenges.
Leadership is many things, but easy is not one.
The very welcome turn down reality road came immediately after Hybels said, “God didn’t make you a leader so that you could merely reside in a position—God made you a leader to move people from ‘here’ to ‘there.'”
He continued, “It looks so easy when I just draw this on a chart. But it is a battle. It requires courage.”
“Finally,” I whispered to myself, “someone admits it’s not so simple. I’m gonna make it.”
Hybels’ continued use of Joshua 1:9, God’s words to a new leader, etched that verse into my active memory: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Special emphasis belongs on the words “be strong and courageous.”
2. Leaders get hurt. A lot.
Hybels shared more reality: Leaders stand as lightning rods for criticism intended for their organization, them personally, or any other axe that needs grinding. Maybe that’s why God included the words “do not be discouraged” in his encouragement to Joshua, along with the source of strength to combat the negative: “for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The only wise choice: Forgive and move on. Enough said.
3. “You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both. They are mutually exclusive. So when you sign up to be brave you are signing up to get your butt kicked.” Dr. Brene Brown shared this truth, which complements point 1 above.
It feels good to hear people talk about leadership in such honest tones. It makes me feel like I’m not crazy when I’m sore from the kicks. And when interviewing people for leadership positions, her point makes a great item to discuss. “So you realize that in this role you’ll get your butt kicked?”
Or maybe not.
4. “If you are not in the arena, also getting your butt kicked on a regular basis, I’m not interested or open to your feedback.” This encore thought from Dr. Brown will help preserve the sanity of many leaders, me included. Admit it, you said a quiet “amen” to that statement.
Before writing this column, I ordered her book Dare Greatly. Based on her talk and “let’s be real” approach, she earns a pre-I-read-it recommendation.
David Staal, senior editor for Building Church Leaders and a mentor to a Kindergarten boy, serves as the president of Kids Hope USA, a national non-profit organization that partners local churches with elementary schools to provide mentors for at-risk students. David is the author of Lessons Kids Need to Learn (Zondervan, 2012) and Words Kids Need to Hear (Zondervan, 2008). He lives in Grand Haven, MI, with his wife Becky, son Scott, and daughter Erin.