One of the greatest – and most rewarding – challenges of any leader is to grow in conquering the towering mountain of Self. Contemporary culture and media thrive on selling Self-interest, Self-promotion, Self-preservation, and Self-indulgence. But those who lead well have mastered the art of putting others’ interests first.
I am now three weeks into my 90-day experiment in overcoming physical and leadership plateaus. I’ve been examining my ways and listening to the echoes of “self” in what I say and do. My mirror has been a page from a letter written by one of the greatest and most selfless spiritual leaders of all time – the apostle Peter. Here’s a guy who hung around with the savior of the universe for 3 years and could easily have claimed titles, pulled rank, or dropped names. But after 30+ years of serving others, he called himself a slave of Jesus Christ.
Here’s what grabbed me:
“[Jesus’] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…. so that through [his great promises] you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self-control,
and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful…. if you practice these qualities you will never fail. (2 Peter chapter 1, ESV)
As I have been meditating on this cascading list of character qualities, many observations surface. Two worthy of note are:
1. The value of growing in more knowledge (books, seminars, sermons, professional development stuff) is limited if it does not lead to greater self-control. This is a call to greater self-leadership. It echoes Jesus words, “If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
2. The ultimate goal of all growth and development is brotherly affection and love. Maybe the litmus test of “Am I growing?” is really “Am I loving others more?” This should start showing up in my life.
What about results? A new physical regimen should result in some noticeable changes in body shape and overall well-being. Check. Spiritual growth should also result in some noticeable fruit in how others experience me. Yesterday someone thanked me for exhibiting a specific quality I had been trusting God to grow in from the list above. I’ll take that as progress.
How are you growing in self-leadership? Check out this practical article by Bill Hybels on The Art of Self-Leadership.