Discover Real Leadership
by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
Most of you know that I will graduate with my M.A. in Theological Studies this coming May. My undergraduate B.S. and my M.A. both center on biblical leadership.
I am currently reading a book called The Emotionally Healthy Leader, by pastor Peter Scazzero of Queens, New York.
The book focuses on leaders digging into their genealogy to discover the reasons why they function the way the do as adults.
If I am being honest, it’s very hard to read this book. I find myself putting it down several times because it is quite convicting. We have the wrong idea of leadership. Many of us behave the way we do because it’s the way our grandparents and parents behaved. If there are certain characteristics about your family life you do not like, quite frankly, your children will pick up those same characteristics as they grow. Most adults are somewhat aware of their upbringing and how it has shaped their life, but they ignore the negative implications and do not try to fix areas that need to be fixed.
Here are a few real-life examples from The Emotionally Healthy Leader on how our upbringing can have an unpleasant impact into our adult life:
- Dan is a doctor who earns a good salary. However, he struggles with perfectionism and workaholism which has hurt his church and family life. Dan traced his issue back to his childhood. He was severely punished by his father whenever he received A’s instead of an A+’s on tests. He eventually grew up believing he had to be perfect to be loved. Therefore, Dan works all the time and everything has to be perfect, and he expects everyone around him to do the same.
- Allison’s parents divorced when she was a child. Her dad promised he’d continue to see her and her brother regularly. When her dad remarried only a few months later, he stopped seeing them on a regular basis. Allison grew up not trusting people which has negatively influenced her career.
- Joseph is a pastor at a church. As a child, his parents yelled and screamed all the time and he was the peacemaker. Today, as a pastor, Joseph avoids negative situations and does not deal with church issues because he does not like conflict. This is bad, because as the pastor, Joseph has to be the leader and make tough decisions for the good of the church, however, he never learned how to deal with conflict in a positive manner -so he avoids it.
- Nathan grew up in a loving Christian home, but he was repeatedly told as a child that God has a great plan for him as long as he didn’t mess up in life. Today, Nathan is bent on doing everything right to please God – so he can be blessed by God.
These are just a few quick stories on how our upbringing can have a negative outcome in our adult life.
There are even stories in the book that talk about leaders in business and pastors who operate on high energy mode of doing, doing, and doing because they were raised to believe projects and activities meant achievement. On the surface their life looks great – but on the inside, their soul is hurting.
The central theme of this book in to understand what true healthy leadership looks like:
Spending time alone with God on a regular basis can and will develop true healthy leadership.
You might be ready to click out of this article and move on – but what this author says is true. You might have been expecting some dynamic key bullet points. But the truth is there is only one aim, one bullet point in life that matters the most; our relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything else is man-made and destined to crumble.
When we operate within our own wisdom we have no need for God. The generation of negative characteristics we are passing on to our children come from lack of wisdom and relationship with God.
- When we are in a relationship with God, He guides our lives. God wants us to do well and achieve, but it’s not to the point of mistreating our children or making them feel they must get all A’s to be important.
- God will never want a marriage to dissolve, but if it does for biblical reasons, He will guide the direction of those relationships.
- Through prayer, God can help families resolve conflict.
- God never wants His children to believe He is not with them if they make mistakes.
Unfortunately, we idolize leaders who dress well, make the most money, or on magazine covers.
True leadership comes from our weaknesses and reliance on God. The apostle Paul knew this all too well.
2: Corinthians 12:8 “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.”
Paul had an affliction that ailed him. God would not take it away. Rather, God knew Paul was a better man, a better leader, because it made Paul rely on God.
Scazzero shares a very interesting story about president Abraham Lincoln. He gives detail on the many failures and setbacks Lincoln endured. Lincoln had a history of defeats running for public office. When he was finally elected president, his failures were the subject of vicious public ridicule. (Sounds a lot like today) Yet, Lincoln was transformed through his reliance of prayer and fasting to God.
If you want to raise true leaders; don’t look to the world – you must look to God.
Look inside your life to see why you behave the way you do. When you discover negative impacts, seek God to transform you, lest you pass these traits on to your children. Leadership is sole trust, and dependence on God. If you want to raise future leaders, lead them to Jesus Christ and surrender all to Him.
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
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