(This post by Shane Duffey is absolute FIRE!!! Shane is truly one of the best leaders I have ever known and I'm so thankful for how he loves and serves Jesus and our church!! I hope you love this post as much as I do!!)
We all want to have a great life and be great leaders, but how can we make sure that we actually experience both?
To write a great story, we have to start with the end in mind. If we were to write what we would want to say about the impact of our leadership at the end of our lives, what story would we want to tell? Think about it… and as we do, we must consider whether or not the decisions we’re making each day is actually leading us in that direction.
No matter how the story unfolds the character that will have the biggest impact will be the person we see when we look in the mirror. To lead ourselves well is both the best and most difficult task we’ll undertake in our quest for our lives to tell a great leadership story. So, what is the secret to leading ourselves well?
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
This verse gives us a simple and profound answer. But for any of us to be able to truly act, love and walk as the verse suggests it will take a commitment to be disciplined as we lead ourselves.
None of us are born with the proclivity to be just, merciful or humble. As a matter of fact, the bible tells us that we are born ready, willing and able to do the opposite. If we’re going to write a great leadership story then we’re going to have to, with God’s help, flip the script.
The best example we can look to for help is Jesus. His life provides us with an outline for personal discipline. It's our personal discipline that will equip us to live and lead in a way that makes other people's lives better and it's in making the lives of the ones we lead better that a great story is written.
He Was Up Early:
Setting an alarm clock to get us out of bed an hour before we have to isn’t something we would get excited about. But, it’s a discipline that enables us to start the day ahead rather than behind. It takes the idea of a rushed morning and eliminates it.
When we get up earlier than it takes to rush through our morning, we have the ability to really spend time with God, read the bible, to pray, to prepare our hearts and minds for what is ahead in our day. Preparation will out do reaction all the time.
He Knew God’s Word:
Most people see the bible as a big book with a lot of outdated information and the thought of really knowing it can seem both irrelevant and overwhelming. But the bible is so much more than a big book. It describes itself as ‘living and active’ and ‘able to discern the heart’. Reading and learning it isn’t like cramming for a test but more like having access to an oxygen mask when you’re underwater.
If we’re getting up early then we’ll have time to start reading in bite sized amounts and before we know it, we’ve read through the whole thing. The whole bible can be read in one year by spending less than 15 minutes a day reading. As we read through it year after year, the truth it contains and the Person it connects us to becomes a source for a great life and a help in making great decisions.
He Resisted Temptation:
We can be up early and know the bible from cover to cover and still be writing a bad story. At some point discipline has to show up when the pressure rises. Everyone faces all sorts of temptations to do things that are wrong or harmful to ourselves and/or others. We have to develop the discipline of withstanding those trying times.
Only Jesus fully understands what it's like to never give into temptation, but we are promised by God to be equipped to withstand the greatest of temptations (which is something we’ll know if we’re getting up early and learning God’s word… see how this is working?)
He Rested Well:
Most of us fall into the trap of thinking more is better. But, more of something bad can never be better. The bible teaches that taking a Sabbath every week is crucial to having the best life possible. In addition to this, our bodies are made to operate best on about 8 hours of sleep per night. Too many leaders are so undisciplined in this area. So many leaders think that they are the exception to the rule and that rest is for the weak.
Jesus had the weight of the world’s sin upon His shoulders and He always made time to rest. He observed the Sabbath and even on the last week of His ministry on earth, He spent extended time resting and recreating with His friends.
So much more could be written about Jesus and each of these disciplines, but it doesn’t take much effort to see how each discipline serves the next and how all of them working together produces Christlike character. If a great life and leadership story is written by someone who acts justly, loves mercy and walks humbly, then our best chance to be that type of person is to follow Jesus as closely as possible. He’s the only one to ever do it perfectly.
We aren’t Jesus but we can follow this same pattern of self discipline. As we do, it becomes impossible to write a bad story. Our disciplined lives will overflow into exceptional leadership and the story we write will slowly shift from fiction to fact.
(If you've enjoyed reading this post, I hope you'll love my new book The Most Excellent Way to Lead where I talk more about leading yourself and others well. You can visit mostexcellentwaytolead.com to find a retailer and preorder a copy today!)