Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On Humble Leadership


Despite what I wrote in my article "Is Facebook Making us Lonely," I like Facebook. I was reminded of this the other day when it alerted me to a friend's birthday.

Now, this guy is truly unique because he defies the stereotypes of what you expect from a leader. If you know me, you know that I’m inspired by people who change the world by their sheer force of will. But my friend is no Julius Caesar, Alexander Hamilton, or Steve Jobs; my friend finds himself positions of responsibility because he is a servant leader.   

When I used to run into people in D.C. and tell them I worked for this fellow, they would light up. People always talked about how much they loved working with my friend, although few could articulate why they liked him so much. But if I were to venture a guess as to what set my friend apart to these people, it would be that he is genuinely humble--a rare thing to see in a city full of power players.

Through my observations of his leadership, I’ve learned two major lessons from my friend. The first is to avoid holding things too close. My friend was the leader of a nationwide organization that does incredible work, having a huge impact both spiritually and politically. He wisely guided the organization through hard times and intentionally built it to outlast himself.

Then, when the time was right, he gave up his job. He didn't drag his feet or try to control the organization from a distance; he gave it up and resolved to continue forward with new focus and vigor in a new direction. Inexplicably, his influence and his ability to do ministry and politics have only grown, even though he gave up one of the major ways he had exercised his gifts before. The only explanation that I can see is that God is blessing my friend for his willingness to pass the torch. 


The second lesson my friend has taught me is the value of being a straight shooter. Once, back when I worked for him, I was complaining about something that bothered me about how the organization worked and he admitted to me that under the current set up he would need to be run over by a truck for me to get the changes that I wanted. He didn't mince words or try to distract me: he let me know the truth, knowing that I wouldn't like it. Once again he proved his humble leadership by explaining that I could very well be right, and things might need to change, but he was honest and forthright about how the way things currently stood. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom where people avoid saying anything "offensive" and end up saying nothing but fluff.

So, this post is dedicated to those who model humble and honest servant leadership to the rest of us. May we learn from them and remember that leadership is not a position to be held or a title to be won, but rather a characteristic to be used to help make this world a better place.

Post by Jeremiah Lorrig
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