Leading Through Weakness

In a past blog entry by Chuck Swindoll (not a person I quote often) he stated:

One of the joyful privileges of my early ministry was to know a man named Jim Petersen. Through his capable leadership and sterling character, the ministry of The Navigators expanded greatly in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I first met Jim at The Navigators’ headquarters in Colorado Springs. I was new to ministry at the time—and far too naïve—so I was looking for a formula for success in God’s service. “How do you do it, Jim?” I asked. “Tell me the secret of ministering to people.” I expected him to say, “Always set the pace” or “Be strong no matter what” or “Model the truth and stand against the gale as it attacks you.”

Jim just smiled in his inimitable way and answered, “Chuck, let people see the cracks in your life, and you’ll be able to minister to them.” That’s it. That’s the distilled essence of all he told me.

Peterson’s comments reminded me of Ronald Heifetz who teaches on leadership at Harvard.  Heifetz states that our society has somehow given the impression that good leaders are those that are heroic, never admitting weakness or never asking for help.  However, he explains that these sentiments are a lie.

A great example of a leader at the top of his game leading effectively through admitted weaknesses was the Apostle Paul.  As he wrote:

8 At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that,  9 and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.  10 Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. (2 Corinthians 8:-10)

I don’t quite understand all of that, but somehow as you allow yourself to better expose your weaknesses, the stronger and more effective you will become as a leader (allowing God’s grace to work through you).  We have all worked with leaders that would rather talk about their “Strengths Finder” results, their intelligence, and their ability to walk on water…however let us never forget the breath of fresh air it is to follow a capable & skilled leader that is humble, genuine, and admits weaknesses, saying, “My fault.”


~ by Dave Smith on April 26, 2010.

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