The Cost of Leadership

My heart becomes heavy when I focus on the cost that being in leadership, particularly in ministry, brings.  I try not to dwell on it too often because it can quickly eclipse the joys that I get to celebrate in this role also.  Recently, however, it has hit hard as my husband and I choose to take the high ground and allow a direct report to have the last word on what they believe the situation is, rather than defend ourselves and give evidence as to why that perception is misplaced.

It stings.  It cuts to the heart especially as we have, on many occasions, demonstrated love and grace and understanding to this individual, but at this point of time they are unable to recall those occasions or are unwilling to see things differently.  They have re-framed past encounters to fit this modified worldview and I want to pull them aside and set them straight about just how wrong they are.  Actually, I want to publicly denounce them to the same audiences they are choosing to share this information with.

But I can’t.  Well, I could but I won’t.  There are no winners in that kind of war.  I need to remember that just because someone else says something about me it doesn’t make it true.

We are aware that our leadership is not perfect, but we acknowledge our shortfalls and admit our mistakes when they occur.  What hurts is the fracturing of a relationship we had spent time nurturing and that the worst is now believed of us.  Our motives are questioned and our abilities are ridiculed and despite sounding like a spoiled three year old I’m going to say it … It’s not fair!

I have had time to reflect over these past few weeks and months about the injustice of it all and how to learn from the experience and have it inform my ministry leadership moving forward.  I was confronted by some verses in my devotional reading.

I am working through reading the Bible in a year and the scheduled reading around the time this was happening included the account of Jesus praying in the garden just before he was arrested as recorded by Luke (chapter 22 verses 39-44).  It was at this point I realised that my petulant concerns for personal justice and protection of my reputation were ridiculous.

Jesus prayed fervently for the cup of pain and suffering he was being asked to endure be removed, but that ultimately it was God’s will that was the best course of action, not his own personal preference.  Leadership comes at a price, and often that price includes sacrifice, pain and loneliness.

I compared the suffering I was facing with what Jesus endured in his ministry life.  At his every turn his motives were questioned, his words twisted, his actions given a more sinister intent.  If ever there was someone who was misunderstood and maligned in ministry it was him.  This helped me gain some perspective.  It helped me work out who I was trying to impress compared to who knows what the motives of my heart are.

I am sad at this current state of the working relationship and I know it says more about their state of mind than my actions and attitudes.  I will choose to continue, however, to drink the cup before me, whatever it may bring.  I know this will be a lesson that serves me well in my continued relationships and interactions in life.

Be blessed.

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