RLL 35--Inverted Leadership (part 4 of 4)
Education vs. Experience, Hard Truths of Leading and Life, and Reason to Hope
Good morning, and welcome to the last part of our Inverted Leadership book preview blog series! Today's update contains excerpts from chapters 7-9.
Chapter 7: What Are You Doing Here? Education vs. Experience
In leadership, we often face a false dichotomy in terms of importance: that is, we are either told that education helps us learn or that experience is the best teacher. Looking to the example of Christ, I believe His life shows that both are necessary for proper instruction. Jesus both instructed the crowds and the apostles using stories and parables, and He also lived and traveled with the apostles for years, showing them how His teachings applied in various situations. If we are to be Godly leaders, we must understand that both education and experience are necessary parts of our growth.
Experience is a key component of leadership, and it illustrates something that I want to really emphasize for leaders: every role you are in is either a leadership role, or it is preparing you (giving you experience to help you) for a future leadership role.
We need to balance our practical knowledge (experience) with our theoretical knowledge (education), and as always we need to remember that, when in doubt we should err on the side of service and humility, just as Christ said He came not to be served but to serve.
Chapter 8: Your Biggest Mistakes Are Still to Come: Hard Truths of Leading and Life
It would be wonderful to be able to say that after reading this book you’ll never make a mistake or have any trouble in your leadership roles. It would also really be a boost to my pride and ego! And it would be entirely false. The truth is that we will all mess up again tomorrow, and we’ve probably already messed up today. That is where, especially as leaders, we must embrace the wonderful power of forgiveness found in the Gospel while also not falling prey to what Bonhoeffer referred to as “cheap grace.” We are forgiven, certainly, but let us not presume upon Christ’s sacrifice and use it as an excuse to sin. We’ll sin plenty without having to try!
Here we see an extremely important leadership principle: in this life, we will never attain perfection, yet as leaders we have a responsibility to strive for it at all times. Knowing we cannot be perfect is no excuse for failing to attempt perfection anyway. As leaders we cannot afford to fall prey to a fatalism or an acceptance that anything less than perfect is good enough. As C.S. Lewis writes, when talking about attempting to exercise virtue, “The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”
Chapter 9: "Make Each Day Your Masterpiece" (Coach John Wooden): Reason to Hope
As Christians we have the joy of knowing that life is a blessing and a gift from God. We have the joy of the Gospel and the knowledge that, no matter how much we fail here, no matter how bad things get, that in the final assessment God wins. And because we have that joy, even though we won’t experience it fully this side of eternity, yet because of the work of Christ we have reason to hope.
Leadership will not be easy. It is not for the faint of heart. It will be hard, it will be a struggle and a fight. People that you lead will resist your efforts, especially when you challenge the status quo. People will criticize your efforts and not accept your explanations for your choices. It will be difficult, but it is worth fighting for the good. In the excellent movie A League of Their Own, actor Tom Hanks’s character is rebuking a player for quitting when things got hard. He says to her, “It’s the hard that makes it great. If it was easy, everyone would do it.” This is a line I quote every semester to my students and every season to my athletes. Leadership is hard, and it’s the hard that makes it great. Let us take the proper approach when we do it: be confident in God’s goodness and the gifts He has given you, be humble in the way you relate to other people, and always, always, always, fight for the good.