Why It’s Good To Be A Weak Leader

December 31, 2012 at 5:15 am 2 comments


Leadership 1The other day, I was reflecting on how some of my most memorable moments of ministry seem to come when I am not doing the things I normally do.  I spearhead the adulteducation program at Concordia, but I sincerely love getting goofy for the sake of the Gospel with the kids who attend our annual Vacation Bible School.  I spend a good portion of my day in the office taking care of business on my MacBook, but I am delighted when I go on a mission trip and swing a hammer to help an underprivileged community.  Just last week on Christmas Eve, though I am normally a teacher, I was honored to work with an incredibly talented group of actors, musicians, and tech folks as a director in our Christmas pageant.  Stepping out of my normal role and into something different has a unique way of stretching, growing, and inspiring me.

Leadership gurus traditionally teach that a person ought to lead from his strengths while managing his weaknesses.  But as I’ve been reflecting on the times where I have been privileged to lead in areas where I am not apparently talented or naturally strong, I am beginning to question this tenant of leadership orthodoxy – at least in part.  For when a person is called to lead in an area where he may be weaker, it not only helps him grow in a different and new mode of leadership, it helps him grow in his preferred mode of leadership as well.

Here’s what I mean.  Every leadership strength comes with a built-in deficiency.  For instance, if a leader is naturally a type-A in-charge go-getter, he may also come across as insensitive or uncaring, more concerned with finishing a job by a deadline than demonstrating compassion on a person.  But if this leader periodically puts himself in positions where his primary calling is to care for others, this can help him balance his type-A in-charge go-getter proclivity with intentional empathy and deep sensitivity.  If another leader is naturally more of a perceptive, conciliatory, people-person, he may also come across as weak or pandering, more concerned with keeping everyone happy than getting something done right.  But if this leader periodically spearheads projects that involve making tough decisions that will inevitably ruffle others, this can help him balance his perceptive, conciliatory personality with a tough-as-nails determination.  Leading from a place of weakness encourages a person to be cognizant of and work on those deficiencies that are inherent in his strengths.

Leading from a place of weakness, of course, is nothing new.  The apostle Paul writes of his leadership in ministry, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).  Leading from and in weakness is what honed and helped Paul’s strength, for when Paul led from weakness, he had only Christ’s strength on which to rely.  And Christ’s strength, not human fortitude, is what every leader needs.  As Paul writes in the verse prior, “[Christ’s] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Don’t be afraid, then, to lead in an area where you are weak.  After all, even if you’re weak, Jesus is not.  And He can use your weaknesses to show His strength and to bless your leadership.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Darleen  |  December 31, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Great post and very challenging… It takes courage to lead in your weaknesses.. Reading through your post I could not stop thinking of Moses and how God picked Moses at the beginning to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses said not me, God transformed Moses to do His wonders..When I think of Leadership I think of Moses because Moses felt incompetent, but God used Moses in his weaknesses..

    Reply
  • 2. Andrew  |  December 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I believe sometimes people seek leadership positions for the wrong reasons and make the event, task, activity less about accomplishing something and more about garnering the recognition that comes with such an achievement. In these cases, its not difficult to imagine those people generally attempting to lead from their strengths. While I don’t think its necessary to question the motives of all leaders in any scenario, the reluctant leader is often the one with the proper perspective.

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