Dan Allender states it simply, “If you’re a leader, you’re in the battle of your life.”  When my wife and I accepted the job as national leaders in an organization, our boss commented that it would be a couple of the hardest years of our life. I am not sure if his comment was because he saw how much I needed to grow in character; or if he was more aware of the organizational challenges we were stepping into; perhaps he simply had keen insights into leadership. At times, leading feels like trying to repair gaping holes on an aircraft carrier and keeping it afloat while advancing in the middle of a war with F-18s landing and taking off.
I would do it again. I have no regrets for the experience. It has been a season of blessing, but also of brokenness. At times, we experienced loss and hardship; yet always there was grace of forgiveness and God’s amazing provision. There were feelings of betrayal of losing friends, but blessings of new forged friendships and alliances.
Matthew 5:3 became a comfort: “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” (The Message). To say I often found myself at the end of the rope might be an understatement. My previous leadership skills and successes were stretched and challenged beyond my capacity. At the end of the rope in leadership, you come face to face with yourself and your inadequacies; but, it is also a chance to grow more intimate with the God who has known you and set you apart even before you were born. 
Leadership is not simple. It may be the most difficult and costly thing you have done yet. You will have to get a grip on the painful realities that we live in a broken world and work with broken followers. Perhaps the most unnerving news is that we as leaders are also broken.
Leadership in any organization or company holds no promise of immediate reward. There are no pithy acrostics or uncomplicated five steps of how to lead the easy and pain-free way! I have learned no short cuts or “keys” or “secrets”. Certainly, reading about lessons doesn’t compare with experience. But, perhaps some of the lessons in my own journey can serve as clues or road marks in your own leadership journey as you seek to leave a behind a significant legacy in the lives of others.
Over the next couple weeks, I will share many of the lessons I have learned as a national organizational leader. To categorize the lessons, I will use the five universal leadership challenges that Dan Allender outlines in his book, Leading with a Limp. If you have lead for any amount of time, I suggest you read his book.
The five universal leadership challenges I will use to organize my own lessons are: 1) crisis, 2) complexity, 3) betrayal, 4) loneliness and 5) weariness. Join me on the journey and add in your own lessons. I am sure we will all benefit.
What have been the greatest leadership lessons you have learned on your journey?
Other posts in this series:
- Leadership Lessons along the journey: Crisis
- Leadership Lessons along the journey: Complexity
- Leadership Lessons along the journey: Betrayal
- 4 Early Warning Signs of a Narcissistic Leader
- 7 practices to avoid becoming a self-absorbed, narcissistic leader
- Leading with Courage in the midst of Betrayal
- 7 Practices to Relieve Leadership Loneliness
- Leadership Lessons along the journey: 9 Practices for Beating Weariness