A phrase used often in the Christian leadership program for twenty-somethings I work with, when referencing a seasoned leader, is that they “lead with a limp”.
This isn’t some strange reference to valiant leaders with physical disabilities (e.g., Franklin D. Roosevelt or John McCain). It is, instead, acknowledgment of their humility; a humility gained only after walking through hardship, defeat and the reality that leadership and perfection are unacquainted.
Desiring to lead with a limp
In our world, to “lead with a limp” is a sign of honor. It says, “Behind that welcoming smile is a story of a man or woman who knows pain and suffering, and has chosen to hold their head high and fight another day.”
The untested leader is at the mercy of circumstance.
Like a vessel without a ballast, they are easily swayed and prone to succumbing to the waves of adversity. And while adversity is a blessing to ones’ personal growth, it can be disastrous to an organization whose leader has been placed in positional authority prematurely, without having overcome many series of adversity previously.
Cherish the hard things in life
For this reason, I encourage young men and women to do hard things.
Our society praises and promotes the personality who seems to effortlessly climb the ranks of success (only to then drop them immediately once their humanity is revealed). This elevation of mere humans to celebrity status can make us think that setbacks are proof we are not meant for greatness. This is a lie.
And before I mislead you, greatness is not fame or fortune. Greatness is knowing who you are in the face of your creator and humbly and obediently walking that out.
Greatness, in its’ proper definition, is something we should strive for because it brings God glory. He created us to know Him and be known by Him, to hear Him and respond. Greatness, however, was never achieved by one who escaped challenge.
So do hard things. Learn from your mistakes. Grow. And gain humility, all the while.
You will get knocked down, and that’s okay. But failure is only rewarded to him who refuses to get up again.
When you push through the anguish of loss, the embarrassment of momentary defeat, or the demoralization of inadequacy, don’t lose hope. You are journeying through the gauntlet of perseverance and soon will know what it means to lead with a limp.