Friday, November 11, 2016

Being a Self Leader Before Becoming a Leader of Others

Yesterday morning, in our devotions, the subject of self leadership came up. Self leadership is a discipline that causes us to first strive for being a good leader to ourselves, even before considering being a leader to someone else. Self leadership is introspection and awareness of how and what we think and how we react. Self leadership is having a developed sense of who we are, what we can do, where we are going coupled with the ability to influence our communication, emotions and behaviors on the way to getting there.

Here's an example: Someone tells a lie about us and we take in that negativity. As a self leader, we can think I'll get even with them. I'll give them my two cents worth. I'll expose the truth about them. Or, as a self leader, we can have a little visit with ourselves and offer suggestions for a better way to handle the situation. We can say things like I need to confront them with kindness to see what caused their actions. I could speak to myself about patience and tolerance and be quick to forgive them.

I can't begin to tell you how many times the enemy pushed me beyond my strength. In reality, I wanted to throw in the towel and retreat to a place of self-pity. I longed for someone to talk to about it, and I realized the one I needed to talk to was me. I recall the story of David in 1 Samuel 30 where this future king of Israel was learning to lead his troops. He wasn't by any means a highly skilled soldier at that time. Even though God poured His favor on David, one terrible day, he and his troops returned home from fighting another enemy and David and his men discovered their camp sites destroyed and their women and children had been dragged off. That would be defined as a bad day for any leader. His soldiers were tired, angry, and worried sick about their families. They were miffed at God. Some of his men spread word that they'd had it with David's leadership. They figured it's all David's fault, and they decided to stone him to death.

In this crisis David's leadership was severely tested. Eventually, he has to decide who needs leadership the most. His soldiers? The Officers? The enemy? The answer? None of the above.

In that critical moment David realized he had to lead himself first, before he could lead anyone else. Unless he had his mind and spirit together, he had nothing to offer his team. So in 1 Samuel 30:6, we read that "David strengthened himself in the Lord his God".

David understood the importance of self leadership. And although self leadership isn't talked about much, I assure you, it is the leadership that our world seems to be most lacking. How can we expect someone else to fix what's wrong in our world, our churches, our schools, our government-- if we can't fix ourselves? How effectively can any of us lead others if our spirits are sagging, our courage is wavering, and our emotions are always on the edge where we respond with knee jerk reactions instead of weighing what our next words will be, or should be?

Here's what I considered about leading myself. If a problem comes to my attention - - first, take a deep breath and have self control. Rather than having an immediate knee jerk reaction, ponder the ways to correct the problem.

Leadership is an art that I want to master. I desire to be able to remind myself who I am and how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I want to self lead myself to be patient, calm, focused and steady in the midst of my days. I want to self lead myself to be on time, attentive to others, be laser focused on them when we're speaking, and I want my first response to be kindness, gentleness, and love. Yes, I'll probably have to take myself into my mind's conference room to keep striving to get it right, but like David, keep strengthening myself in the Lord my God, until I get it right.