Welcome to The SHAPE of a Leader. I write this blog with the SHAPE leadership development program (for women pastors) I lead in mind, but it is for all who are interested in leadership, faith, and the intersection of the two.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Devotion from Matthew

I thought I'd share the devotion I offered yesterday:

Matthew 5: 14-16: “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone else in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

That’s all well and good, and I believe that every person in this room is at their core a very good person.  The thing is, if all people are like a lamp on a stand, for all the world to see, leaders are more like spotlights, beacons, lighthouses. A leader does more leading by example, when she isn’t aware she’s leading, than any explicit, intended leadership behavior.  That reason alone should cause us to truly examine our actions, beliefs, strengths, and hang-ups with the goal of deeper understanding about who we are, and what light we’re shining without really knowing it. As Manz says, “Doing our best ostrich imitation by hiding our heads in the sand (or under a basket) does not make our leadership light go away.” 

Andrew Carneige, who wrote the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, had a rigorous practice of spending hours examining all his interactions with others with the goal of understanding himself better and changing his behavior for the good.  

When we deepen our awareness, and more closely align our actions with the intentions in our heart, it is these new behaviors that become the light that is shined without our knowing. I’ve learned to ask myself, “What’s my motive?” “Why did I respond that way?” “What impression did I just give to the other?” “What is it about myself that is reflected in that person’s behavior that bugs me?”   

To know ourselves deeply is to be able to answer those questions, to know clearly where our boundaries are, to hold each of our interactions against the light of our values and say, “did I live up to them?” “Was I the best example I could be in this situation?” and then when we humbly realize that we didn’t quite do it right, we reflect on why, and what to do differently next time. 
It’s not easy, and that’s why great leaders aren’t made in a day; and that’s why most people shy away from leadership in general. 

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