What is authentic leadership and why would you care? Because when we are authentic, and show our struggles, not just our accomplishments, God is glorified, not our level of endurance.
WEGO Health asks for their daily writing challenge “How do you decide what to share, not share?” Day #4.
Authentic. Vulnerable. Caring. Concerned. But still ill, weak, tired. And yet, leading.
The term “authentic leadership” was coined by Bill George in his 2003 book by the same name. He describes it as a style of leadership that is consistent with the leader’s personality and core values, while also being honest. One who is an example of authentic leadership draws inspiration from her (or his) own experiences.
Authentic leadership is something I have attempted to demonstrate long before I knew the phrase.
Why? Because as I write for Rest Ministries I try to provide hope through the lessons I have learned, the emotions I experience. But–I know–my lessons will provide little comfort. It is through my weakness, my struggles, my confessions, I have discovered this is where God allows me to offer hope.
Why? Why cannot my successes, or yours, offer authentic hope? Because when we tell people we find hope in our own strength they are left hopeless because they feel without strength. Because only when we have cracks, can the Holy Spirit shine through us. When we share that our authentic hope is through Jesus, everyone is eligible for this gift.
Regardless of how blessed we are or how much we have learned through life’s experiences, it is through our on-our-knees-I-can’t-take-it-another-moment moments we our truly authentic. Then, that conversation is is purely between God and me, and I have opened up my private moment to share with you. Even when it is scary.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul shares his attempt to desire to be strong –and he reveals what God showed him.
“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.'”
Lord, I can serve You better if I am well. God, I can reach more people if I am whole. This pain, this irritation, is preventing me from doing all I can do for You. I am sure Paul must have prayed these words. And I have prayed them. God, you don’t need to heal me. I will be content. I just need to feel a little but better so I can more for You.
For you. . . For you. . . For you.
—No really, it is for me. My ministry can so easily give me personal satisfaction, which can lead to pride. And this will lead to destruction–and then a fall, because scripture explains this process rather explicitly. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)
Every day I do what I can. I do my best to fulfill what God requires of me that day. Some days I am blessed with enough energy to do that which I desire. Other days I fall short of my plans. But the struggle is to not do that which I desire and fall short of God’s plans. When I lose sight of God’s plans, and focus on only my plans, nothing I do is fruitful, regardless of how many items are marked “done” on my to-do list.
About 18 months ago I had a bad day at the doctor. And I bit my lip holding back the tears until I sat down in front of the video camera at home. I spoke, I cried. And then I hit the button that says “Publish.” I looked at the screen and wondered what I have done?? My fears began to assail me.
Would you be horrified that I fell apart? Would you be discouraged that I was discouraged, when I was supposed to lead you to hope? Would I become known as that blubbering woman from that illness ministry? Would it destroy those who considered me happy-go-lucky all the time? Would my credibility falter if I appeared hopeless for a few minutes?
Perhaps. but I was determined to take the risk. And you reached out. To date, this is one of our most viewed videos here at Rest Ministries. (See below) It is real. It is raw. It is my example of authentic leadership. I don’t have to hold it all in. I don’t have to hold it all together. I don’t have to hold it all back. And neither do you. God uses what we offer up to Him.
Sometimes that is our strengths, our gifts, our talents.
Other times, it is just. . . our. . . tears.
Being a Christian–especially one who is chronically ill–does not mean we are always cheerful. It doesn’t mean we never worry. It doesn’t mean we hide our imperfections, our exhaustion, our heartaches. It means we know when to share them, to reveal our humanness–and reveal why we all need God.
So as I write, share, express to you the million emotions that float through my head, I hope you feel I am authentic. That I “get it.” That if I had wings I would fly to you have a cup of coffee (or whatever you drink) and chat with you. I hope you know I would listen. I would hold your hand and pray. I would nod as you spoke and smile gentle, handing you a tissue when the tears came.
But in the end, I would not have all the answers.
I would say, “I wish I understood why God has allowed this. I wish I could take away the pain. I wish I could fix this for you. I can’t. But I know God can. And His answers may not come in the way you wanted. He will seem absent when you need Him most. He will send you into spin cycles of suffering, but He will also rebuild your life in ways you can never imagine. And one day, we will hang out in heaven and talk about how He made miracles out of the messes.”
I hope you know I would be authentic–not prepackaged. I hope you know I care. I hope by sharing my weaknesses, my struggles, you will not be saddened, but be blessed with knowing the woman behind the computer screen here at Rest Ministries is one of you. With all my baggage, fears, concerns, lack, I am one of you–clinging to God.
Oh, and in case you were wondering after watching the video . . . after over 10 years, I dropped this doctor. I found a new doctor who I love, I have decreased prednisone with his help to 8 mg now, and have lost 24 pounds. God knew exactly what He was doing. Why do I ever question that? Here is the video — it’s not pretty — but it’s truth.