Leading others means you have a heart for others to find grace, hope and the strength to grow and bloom. When we examine why we speak, write and lead, it generally boils down to three things. This is what we want everyone who ever hears us speak or reads our words to experience. We want to lead our audience to truth. To do that we must be seekers of truth ourselves. We ourselves should have hearts that seek grace, hope and the strength to grow and bloom.
When we don’t lead ourselves, it is a short cut to a double life. We become two people, one who leads others and one who refuses to be led themselves. When this happens, our ministry will be weakened, our call to truth will not be heard, and our impact will be hollow. Sadly, the people closest to us will bear the consequences of a double life.
When leaders don’t lead themselves, it is not a pretty thing. We all have examples that pop into our minds of leaders who fell hard, and who made choices that made us question their words. It is hard to watch this happen, as our idols fall from grace, and our hearts feel betrayed. Where was truth in this person’s life?
But a leader doesn’t create a double life overnight. It begins innocently enough, often cloaked in a quest for productivity. We get busy and often the first thing to go is leading ourselves, even though it is foundational to our ministry.
To protect yourself from these same snares (because no one is exempt). These are a few things to think about when it comes to leading yourself.
How to lead ourselves well
Seek community. Leading is often a solitary enterprise. Often there’s no one to talk to who understands exactly where you are coming from and what you are experiencing. Your close friends may not completely understand how a speaking engagement can be exhausting or how vulnerable writing zaps your strength.
Writing and speaking also require a lot of time alone. However, we can’t lead alone. Lead yourself by a finding a community of leaders who are also committed to leading themselves.
Who am I writing for? When the words we write or the talks we give no longer pertain to us that is a warning sign that we may be pursuing a double life. Am I writing for myself? Are the words I am speaking also for me? If not, if might be time to pause and lead yourself.
How am I growing? The opposite of growth is decay. If we aren’t growing, we are stagnating. We should pursue growth in all areas of life: spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual. One of the best things we can do to serve our audience is to continue to learn and grow. Join a Bible study or a book club, pursue coaching or counseling.
Avoid burnout. Leading yourself well allows time and space for self-care. It means you feed your soul before pouring yourself out to encourage others. It means you learn how to say ‘no.’ Leading yourself helps lessen the chance of burnout because you are taking care of your own needs.
When we lead ourselves well we make it possible to lead our audience into a life of grace, hope and growth.
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.