Unlocking Your Leadership Potential

by Craig Jutila

Leadership and Locks

Do you remember the beloved combination lock? I do. Oh the horror of remembering the combination. I would rather use a lock with a key. You only need to remember the key! How hard is that? Put the lock where you need it. Put the key on your key chain. Insert the key. Unlock!

The combination lock is a different story. Left to this, right to that or was it right to this and left to that? I see people at the gym looking at the combination on a piece of paper or the palm of their hand. Heaven forbid you lock that piece of paper with your combination in the locker!

So you’re saying, “Craig, who cares about locks and lockers, keys or combinations?” The answer is we all should. I believe leadership has more to do with remembering a combination of things instead of one key that unlocks everything. With a leadership key you just insert and voila, a leader. I wish it were that easy. Leadership is a combination of what needs to be turned “right” and what needs to be “left”. Leadership is a series of numbers dialed in the correct order. When this happens, you will unlock leadership power and potential within yourself and others.

 

Turn Right to Balance

First turn right to 43, Ecclesiastes 4:3 to be exact. It says, One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind. Healthy life balance is important. Most leaders miss this. I did. It took me about 20 years to understand the importance of living a life of balance, a margin, and healthy pace. When I looked at people who had peace and pace in their life, I usually characterized them as, well, lazy, while I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off with no balance and margin in my life. My staff named me “Taz” after the Warner Brother’s Tasmanian Devil. The “Taz,” spins like an out of control vortex with no purpose other than knocking stuff over and tearing things up. That was me. I chalked it up to my personality “type”…type “A”, or my only-child-driven-ness or something arrogant like, “I just have a better work ethic than those ‘other’ people.” The older I get, the more ridiculous this sounds. Most books I have read in the last few years point to a “driven” personality as unhealthy! I was living under the presumption that it was my job to change the world; “Be a world changer” was my mantra. There was only one person that came to change the world and I just work for Him. Take a look at the following verse:

There are people who are all alone. They have no children or other family members. So there is no end to all the hard work they have to do. Their eyes are never satisfied with riches. But they never ask themselves why they are working so hard and depriving themselves of good things. Even this is pointless and a terrible tragedy. Ecclesiastes 4:8 GWORD

When you are in a hurry, you are more inflexible, impatient, and irritable. Each of those words begin with “I”…there may be a lesson in there. The hurried lifestyle can be physically detrimental and can shorten your life span. This driven personality type is a concern in Japan. The Japanese use the word, “karoshi” meaning death from overwork.

Our problem is that we are “in ministry.” We are doing “good stuff.” It’s difficult to say, “Hey, you baptized fifteen kids last weekend, you need to stop that” or “You had three meetings last week helping volunteer leaders reach their potential, you need to stop that behavior.” The things we do at church are good things. They are hard to say no to.

Satan is shrewd. One of his tactics is to take up your time, even if it’s with good stuff? “Keep them busy”—that’s the enemy’s motto. The more time you spend “doing,” the less time you spend being…being a good spouse, a good parent, a good worshiper of Christ. We weren’t created to get stuff done, we were created to love God and others.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 NASB Jesus came to give us a full life…a saved life, redeemed life, and a balanced and abundant life. You cannot have an abundant life when you are moving fast. If you want to unlock your God-given leadership potential then turn right to Ecclesiastes 4:3…turn right to Life Balance.

 

Turn Left to Pride

Next on the combination is left. Left to 46. James 4:6, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” This is the only time in the New Testament when it says God is in opposition to us.

Ever had anyone “resist you”? If you have children, enough said. My best illustration is my dog, Holiday. She is a Golden Retriever, the best dog on the planet. She is sitting at my feet right now. If I move, she moves. If I leave, she walks me to the door. If I sit down, she is right there next to me. I don’t mean across the room next to me, I mean right up against me. When I come home she passes Mary, Cameron, Alec and Karimy and waits for me. I am her favorite. (Was that arrogant?) She is a great dog and will follow me anywhere…until I try and give her a bath. Remember, she is a Retriever—she likes the water. She jumps in the pool and goes for a dip all by herself. Pull out the hose, bring out the shampoo and Holiday freezes. You can call her and coax her, but eventually you have to carry her to where she will be for the bath. Her resistance is a passive resistance. She doesn’t growl or show her teeth. She shows her resistance by lying down. Bath equals resistance for Holiday.

Can you imagine God in full resistance mode? You think bathing a 65 pound Golden Retriever is tough, try arrogance and pride with your maker. I hope you get the point. Arrogance and pride has no place in a leader’s life. Unfortunately, arrogance will raise its ugly head, usually when you get a compliment or do something extraordinary. That little voice says, “Wow! That was a pretty cool thing you did. How awesome are you!” It’s not the voice that makes you arrogant. It’s when you start believing it. Attacks from the enemy are rarely head on. They are subtle temptations that over time wear you down. Then the enemy has you where he wants you. When those thoughts pop into your head, pray out loud, “God, my desire is to be your humble servant. I do not want to be an arrogant person. I am a child of God who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was used to make a difference in somebody’s life today. I renounce, in the name of Jesus, the thoughts in my mind that are causing me to focus on myself.”

The root of sin is arrogance so, is it a no-win battle? Of course not. It’s part of the combination though. It needs to be “left” out of our lives. Arrogance isn’t thinking about yourself less, it’s thinking about others more.

Not being arrogant isn’t the end of the journey. It’s a start, but according to James 4:6 we are supposed to be humble. 1 Peter 5:5 NASB says Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. This verse says we need to dress ourselves. Well, some of us are poor dressers. Some of us may have a bad wardrobe, but there is hope for those of us who don’t have a good eye for spiritual fashion. Have you watched the show on TLC What Not To Wear? People who are not at the top of their fashion game are confronted about their wardrobe and offered $5000.00 for a new wardrobe. There is a catch. The fashion criminal must learn to “dress” using the co-hosts’ guidelines. They must surrender their entire wardrobe to the fashion police to be locked up for life. Once the candidates agree, they are off to New York for a wardrobe make over. My wife and I sometimes watch the show and say, “Do these people really think they look good in that?”  I mean seriously, lose the spandex and flip flops and get on with life. I’m not the fashion police, far from it, but a simple look at the color wheel will point most people in the right direction.

The show is always the same. The fashion criminals surrender their “old” clothes, go through a minor emotional crisis and then “put on” the new clothes they purchased with the help of the co-hosts. They then return home for an unveiling party. Side-by-side pictures of the before-and-after wardrobes reveal a remarkable difference.

What Not To Wear could be the title of a show using 1 Peter 5:5. Could you imagine someone secretly video taping us walking around town clothed in our arrogant outbursts and selfish ambitions? That could bring us to a humble reality. Scripture reminds us to clothe ourselves in humility. Try it on for size. According to my wife, you can wear this all year round.

 

Turn Right to Courage

After we turn “right” to Balance, and “left” to Pride, we must make one final turn to the right to unlock our Leadership Potential. Let’s turn right to 2 Chronicles 15:7, “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work.” NASB. In other words, turn right to courage!

There are so many situations where courage can be applied. When faced with difficulties, overwhelming odds, when being bullied, beaten or berated, we are to “have courage.” Entire books, websites and movies have been dedicated to the word. We admire it, preach it, teach it and hopefully try to apply it to our lives and model it to our kids. Most of us know “What” courage is and “When” to apply it and even “Why” we need to use it, but the “Where” do we find it and “How” do you apply it seem elusive?

“Take courage”, “Gather up your courage” or a coach says to his players, “Muster up the courage”. The language implies that courage is in us and we simply have to take it, find it, gather it or muster it in order to use it. You may hear people say, “I have lost my courage”. We talk about courage like it’s the key to our car. We usually have it with us but occasionally misplace, lose or leave it somewhere and can’t remember where. Remember the lion in the Wizard of Oz? Courage was part of who he was part of his character! As you know, he just needed a reminder, and so do we. Take a look at our combination verse 2 Chronicles 15:7 says, “Don’t lose courage”. In other words, we had it, but somehow lost it.

 

Have Courage to Connect

Yes, it does take courage to connect. Just because you live in a fishbowl and get along with everyone, doesn’t mean you are connected on a deeper level.

How does the devil attack you? By isolating you! When the Bible talks about the devil roaming around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, it is like a documentary on animals in Africa…a herd of wild antelope trying to cross a river. The entire herd is swimming to get across the current. Once across and tired, the lion looks for the weakest one of the herd. The lion waits for one to be isolated from the rest—the one who is most tired, most defenseless, the one who has been separated from the others. Lions aren’t just brawn, they are brains too. They don’t attack the strongest in the middle of the herd. They attack the one that will put up the least resistance, or don’t even see it coming. It is ruthless and aggressive. There is no chance for this isolated member of the herd. There is a reason all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. Acts 2:44 NLT. There is safety in numbers!

What does this all mean to us as leaders? It means you need to stop cutting service because something in ministry needs to get done. It means getting into a small group where authenticity and accountability can be actionable items. Just because you are visible, doesn’t mean you are accountable. Take a risk this week and find the courage to connect with one another on a deeper level where life change can truly take place.

Unlocking your leadership potential doesn’t come easy. I wish I had a dollar for every time I hurried to my locker to open the combination, but in my haste, missed a number and then had to start all over. Unlocking your leadership potential doesn’t come quickly or easily, but through steady and persistent work.

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