Where Many Leaders Dare Not Go

I am reading a new book by Dan B. Allender entitled Leading.  Why am I reading this particular book?  Because of its subtitle.  The subtitle is: "Turning Your Struggles Into Strengths."  Now that had my interest.  After all, it is often my own humanness that gets in the way.  


I began reading the book and came across this statement:


…to the degree you face and name and deal with your failures as a leader, to that same extent you will create an environment conducive to growing and retaining productive and committed colleagues.


I’ve seen this.  I’ve seen people who either refused or were unable to deal with their own issues.  And then, they couldn’t figure out why others did not enjoy working with them.  Here is a man who is so insecure that he must constantly be propped up and reassured.  He constantly turns conversations from others back to himself.  At the same time, he creates great distance between himself and his colleagues because he will not own up to these efforts to compensate for his insecurity.


I’ve also noticed that it is extremely difficult for so many leaders to admit they were wrong or say "I’m sorry."  Instead, they put a spin on whatever they say so that in the end, someone else is responsible for the mistake.  Or–they pretend there was no mistake at all.  I remember watching the talking heads on television years ago as they discussed the political mess that former President Richard Nixon was in.  In one commentator’s view, the American people are very forgiving and would have forgiven Nixon if he had just said, "I’m sorry.  I was wrong."  But, he would not.


Authentic self-disclosure and honesty are important not only for Christian leaders but for all of us.  Think about how such an attitude would bless our marriages.  I remember arguing with Charlotte once about some issue.  It dawned on me about halfway into the argument that I was wrong.  I had gotten my facts wrong.  By that time, however, I had already committed myself.  So–I did what any other immature human being would do, I continued to argue for something that I knew was wrong.


Pretty stupid?  Yeah.  But also very prideful.


Listen to Allender as he continues this line of thinking:


The truth about confession is that it doesn’t lead to people’s weakness and disrespect; instead, it transforms the leader’s character and earns her greater respect and power.  This is the strange paradox of leading: to the degree you attempt to hide or dissemble your weaknesses, the more you will need to control those you lead, the more insecure you will become, and the more rigidity you will impose–prompting the ultimate departure of your best people.  (p. 3)

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10 thoughts on “Where Many Leaders Dare Not Go

  1. this is a great entry. very insightful and, in my opinion, a huge issue with men in marriages. we have to swallow our pride and admit we are wrong.

  2. “to the degree you attempt to hide or dissemble your weaknesses, the more you will need to control those you lead, the more insecure you will become, and the more rigidity you will impose–prompting the ultimate departure of your best people”

    I’ve seen the truth of that statement up close and personal. It is frustrating and demoralizing to work under the “leadership” of such a person. I need some suggestions on how to deal with such a person on a day to day basis when she is your supervisor and driving everyone crazy with her controlling and micromanaging…………………….but, but that’s another topic which you have probably dealt with already on another blog entitled “How to Deal with Difficult People” or something like that. Perhaps I should consult your archives. 🙂

  3. Great points. I’ve been sharing a message this last year entitled, “Wrong Doesn’t Equal Bad.” It seems a lot of people are afraid to be wrong because it will mean that they’re bad. But being wrong (not in the moral sense) just means that one is in error, which is how we are most of our life. The human journey is about discovering reality and conforming to it. We will throw a lot of bad pitches before we can throw good ones. That’s not shameful or bad. That’s human; that’s how things work; that’s how God made us. I’ve noticed a lot of conflicts are simply errors in judgment; one or both lack clarity about reality. It would be much nicer in life if we could just relax and confess our errors when we discover them and receive and give grace to one another to be wrong.

    A pastor friend of mine decided to leave his church and apply for missionary service. In the end, he was rejected as a missionary candidate and in the meantime he was out of a pastoring job. He felt such guilt and shame for taking his family down this path and putting them in financial peril. I remember trying to encourage him by saying, “How were you supposed to know if this was the right direction without trying? Aren’t you allowed to learn and discover God’s will for you?” He told me, “No, I’m not allowed to do that.” Sadly, we don’t allow others or ourselves to learn. We must be right and perfect from birth.

  4. Chris,
    Thanks for leaving such a good comment. You are so right about that being a huge issue in marriages.

    I hope you will comment again.

  5. Connie,
    That is a good topic for another post. A lot of people have found themselves in the same position. (It would also be interesting to know why these people are being promoted in the first place).

  6. Adam,
    What a sad story about your friend. Sad that he did not feel as if he could be human.

    Sometime, churches want their minister/pastor/church leaders etc. to be better than they really are. Unfortunately, that can put great pressure on these people to pretend or to feel as if they can not be human.

    Thanks Adam for a good comment.

  7. Jim: This is a little off the subject, but I was a high school basketball official for about 20 years, calling mostly varsity level games the last 10 years. I was one of those guys who put up w/ nothing from coaches … until I learned what a difference it made in a “discussion” with a coach for me to say, “You know, Coach, you’re right. I missed the call.” Kept me out of a lot of arguments, bad feelings, technical foul situations, and earned the respect of most coaches that saw me come on their coart over the years. But it was a much older, far wiser, more experienced official who let me in on that secret. And most of the time I didn’t miss the call … but I avoided a lot of unnecessary conflicts.