@mclanea I don’t usually enjoy church tweets, but when I do, they’re from you.
— Adam Lehman (@AdamLehman) June 28, 2015
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.