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Resonating with Leading Up: The importance of Identity

Leading UpI recently read Joel Mayward’s book Leading Up, an excellent book for Christian leaders on leadership and influencing people around you. The book really resonated with me and by sharing some of my thoughts and own experiences, I’d like to show you why.

Who are you?

“Before leading up you have to know who you are.”

Joel writes this in the first chapter after the story on youth pastor Logan his book begins with. It seems like a cliché this statement, but there’s a deep truth in it. Joel shares his own story of how his leadership started from a place of insecure pride and how that affected his leadership.

My leadership started the same way, though I’d say it was more insecurity than pride. You see, I wasn’t at all convinced I was the right man for the job of youth pastor (or youth coordinator as I was officially called). First of all I wasn’t a man, but a woman and while our church was open to women in leadership and preaching roles, I was one of the firsts to actually make that theory a reality.

Secondly, I did not have a theological background and that’s the one that really made me insecure. I always felt I wasn’t good enough, didn’t know enough compared to others, and it affected my leadership.

At times I was afraid to give my opinion, so sure it would be shot down, than no one would take me seriously. It also made me defensive whenever I encountered criticism, even constructive and rightful feedback.

Other times I would compensate for my own insecurity by being too bold, too dominant in discussions. I’m sure others have felt intimidated by me at times, which is rather ironic because it came from feeling intimidated myself.

Humble confidence

The healthy attitude of a Christian leader is humble confidence, Joel describes and I couldn’t agree more. The expression ‘your identity in Christ’ is one that is in my opinion too easily used without ever making it practical, especially when it comes to leadership. But how Joel describes humble confidence rings true: “allowing Christ to be King, to shape our desires and ambitions instead of trying to build them ourselves.”

The list he gives with characteristics of a humbly confident leader may look like an easy one, but it will take a lifetime of leadership to realize every aspect. And so it should be, ‘level 5 leaders’ aren’t just born, they grow out of experiences combined with the right attitude.

It’s that attitude that makes all the difference. Becoming aware of your insecurity, your pride, that’s a huge first step in changing your leadership into leading up. Living from your identity in Christ is a lifetime journey, but it’s one that is the indispensable foundation under influential leadership. Without a healthy identity, there is no healthy leadership and there is no chance of leading up.

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Regrets are a waste of time

I’m digging Rachel Blom’s blog, Youth Leaders Academy. She’s a great writer with tons of practical wisdom for youth workers worldwide. (Yep, she represents Germany!)

Here’s a little taste of Rachel’s New Year’s post on regret.

Yet spending too much time on regrets is useless, because regrets are a big waste of time. It won’t help you to regret the things that you didn’t do or the stupid things that you did, because you can’t change the past. I know that sounds like the biggest cliché ever, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s also true. You can’t change the past, so regretting the past won’t help you. Here’s what will help you as you look back and are confronted with where you fell short:

1. Remorse

Regret won’t help you, but remorse will. Confess your sins and shortcomings to God and where necessary to others. Make amends wherever possible with people you may have hurt. If you had planned to spend more time with your family for instance but failed to actually do so, admit your failure in this area to your spouse and kids. It will go a long way in mending things.

Don’t ever forget that God is a God of second, third and even hundred-and-thirty-fourth chances…No matter how many times you have failed, He will always welcome you with open arms!

Head over to Youth Leaders Academy and check out the rest of this post.