Monday Motivation

Be Dangerous

This Twitter exchange with a former church worker turned entrepreneur reveals that there’s a bit of a leadership farce going on in our society right now.

Everyone is getting labeled a leader. I mean, everyone. The ultimate compliment a teacher can tell parents about their child? “Your child is a leader.”

You can buy books, take online courses, get an MBA, and attend conferences that pump people up to embrace their leadership potential.

And yet… most aren’t really leaders at all. They’ve just bought into the lie that they are a leader. They feel good about that title.

But they are tied to a job where they have no real power to lead. Or they are in a role which muzzles their thoughts or somehow tells them that their ideas aren’t worthy.

I ascribe by what I was taught. You know you are a leader by what happens when you are gone. Let’s say you go on vacation. Did things run the same or better? Then you’re doing your job as a leader. Or let’s say you move on to another role at another organization. Was there someone to continue on what you’ve been working on? Or did they just start over as if you’d never been there?

That’s the difference. When a leader has lead, others don’t just follow temporarily, you’ve inspired them to do something they couldn’t do had they not been lead by you.

I define a leader as this: A leader takes you where you would not or could not otherwise go yourself.

Alive Inside

If I’m honest about where I am today I don’t really care if someone looks at me professionally as a leader or not. The only place that really matters to me, leadership wise, in this stage of life, is leading my family with Kristen.

What I do care about professionally is doing stuff that makes me alive inside. Sometimes I post things and get texts in response like, “Man, think the same thing… wish I could post that but I’d get fired.

On the one hand, I get it. When you work for someone you willingly exchange some stuff for the security of a paycheck. I know that’s not ministry-friendly language, but that’s what you’re doing. It’s a willful choice. I remember teaching things that weren’t what I’d prefer to teach, but that was what I was asked to do… it’s part of being a professional.

But on the other hand, if you’re doing that for a long time you start to smell. A tiny part of you dies in your gut when you aren’t free to share who you really are, what you are really passionate about, or even lead the thing you’re paid to lead in a way that reflects your giftedness– a little bit of you dies each time you do that and takes up residence in your gut. You’ve exchanged temporary security for long-term health. This is what Marko likes to call “a values misalignment.” And just like a misalignment on your car, it might not be a big deal for a day or a week, but if you don’t deal with it eventually it’ll wreak havoc on every area of your life. In my language, if you do things long enough that aren’t your true self, you just start to stink.

It’s been 4 years since I left YS, 7 years since I left working for a local church– things I once thought were my dream jobs but came with a need to be something to someone else to fulfill a role they foresaw for me.

But today?

The muzzle is gone.

The filter is off.

And I’m more alive inside today than I’ve been in a long time.

Big Sky Bloomington

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a new blog from a high school acquaintance, Seja. While in the middle of a seemingly good career selling pharmaceuticals she started to realize that she and her husband were misaligned, they were pursuing a dream that wasn’t actually their dream for themselves.

Recently, she quit her job to pursue something she’s always desired for her family, especially her kids– owning a farm.

She writes about how her land found her in the middle of her commute, she found herself unable to avoid it. I liked the imagery. As you read her story you realize that her dream called her more than she pursued it, it’s a beautiful picture:

Again, I don’t even know why I did it. I loved it, of course, but I had passed other properties similar to this one.  I was drawn to this one so much so that just in case I didn’t drive by it again – our work territories changed all the time – I wanted to be able to preserve this sight.

These wants, these desires I experienced, I knew they came from deep inside.  I was drawn to it and it came from an authentic place – not to please anyone else or to ask someone else if they liked it too.  I knew I loved it.  And that was all.

And then we found our land.

Read the rest

As I’ve read her story I connect to the counter-cultural aspects of her journey. She’s given up the American Dream for her Family Dream… how much more powerful is that?

That’s dangerous.

For me…  the most dangerous person I can be is my true self. I’ve been made to say and do things that others can’t or won’t. It’s a blessing and a curse, but that’s who I am.

And I have a feeling that’s you, as well.

You weren’t created for domestication, you’ve got a bit of wild left in you.

You are wild. You are dangerous.

I’m here to tell you to go.

I’m here to testify that when you do that you’ll come alive in ways you never knew possible.

I’m here to tell you it isn’t easy– it’s scary as hell sometimes.

But I’m also here to remind you that you’ll never experience the thrill of free fall until you jump out of the plane.

Safety is a matter of perspective. 

Photo credit: Skydiving by Morgan Sherwood via Flickr (Creative Commons)

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

3 replies on “Be Dangerous”

Adam, I like the thoughts and progression of everything you expressed here. I do have to say though, you need stability in order to have the luxury to be able to think in such ways, which is something I have not had, so a part of me grieves when reading this, longing to be able to go there. Of course I see God’s hand and grace in our lives and we’re living step-by-step in faith, but I pray and hope for the day when I have that luxury. I do know there are some ways that I can consider things as such in small ways though.

I’m not talking about the security issue you raise above on a financial level, I’m talking about internally being able to go there. As in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, beyond the physiological, the safety, the love/belonging and the esteem levels are needed before you can get to that point, which are all broken down with a lack of stability, imho. I just mention this because I do think it is a perspective worth being aware of. Thanks.

I think I get what you are saying. My pushback to your pushback would be that stability is intrinsic. If you are knocked out of whack by a life circumstance than you need to deal with the internal struggle for sure. I’ve lived a life of making lemonade out of lemons… the stability comes from something deeper than can be effected by a job change or fear of taking a risk or whatever. I think the thing for me at the very core of “stability” is striving for internal health. “Am I observing the Sabbath? Am I taking time away for rejuvenation? Am I dating my spouse?” I find when I mess those things up that’s where I find instability.

But from an external perspective, the only stability I’ve ever found has come from taking risk to chase after God’s leading. Whether it was in going to Bible College back in the mid-90s with no real support from anywhere around me. Or walking away from a corporate job in the early 2000s to go into full-time ministry or even in more recent leaps… those things all lead to intrinsic stability because I’m in the right place doing the right things, to hell with the circumstances. 🙂

Well certainly, I’d agree with that – to a point. Though when dealing with difficult situations, whether it’s stability or family tragedy or what-have-you though, what you say is easier said than done. I think I have been able to do these things to a point – being true to myself and my sense of calling, living by faith and trust, willing to step outside-the-box,… I guess I’m still working through the internal struggle of 7 different jobs in the past 9 years (2 non-church). The recession drastically reduced the number of youth ministry options out there. And what I’ve learned from going from church to church and community to community is that a lot of your base is built around the community that you have. And this base of support is manifest in a number of ways. And there have been times that I felt that I was taking a risk to chase after God’s leading and trusting by faith that we were doing the right thing, just to find a dead end and heartache down that road. I guess as I’m thinking about this, one of the ways that I have been “wild” and “dangerous” is that I’m right back at it. Still trusting, still believing, still loving… 🙂

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