This morning, while catching up on my email, I came across a timely article entitled LEADING YOURSELF. The concept in this article is not original to the author. I have seen it other places, in articles and in books, such as Courageous Leadership, by Bill Hybels. In light of last night's thoughts on "little things," I think this ties right in.
The point of the article is on self-leadership. The concept is that a good leader spends 50% of his leadership effort in leading himself. After all, if you can't lead yourself, how can you lead others. For men in pastoral ministry, this is especially important since the pastoral role is largely about modeling the Christian life. As the article points out, the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 are, for the most part, qualifications about self-leadership—about controlling our desires and passionss, our habits and thoughts, our goals and motivations. Many are the pasto's who have fallen into disgrace because they let the "little things" go unmanaged in their life.
Which leads to another thought of mine—Biblical accountability. One of the glaring problems of modern ministry (and modern life in general) is that too few people have real accountability—a relationship with someone who they will allow to speak into their life about the tough stuff. I heard a pastor who is fairly well known in fundamentalist circles say at a conference that he needed accountability from God and his wife, and no one else. I was stunned. I heard another pastor say about a staff member who was fired for moral reasons that the staff member shouldn't have needed accountability. He should have been doing right all along. While these sentiments may be true about the "should"s, even the strongest believer has a heart that deceives (Jeremiah 17:9). A heart unstrengthened by biblical fellowship is a heart prone to wander and fall all too easily to the attractiveness of sin.
The Bible describes a biblical fellowship of sharing that includes the burdens and struggles of life in sin and temptation, as well in joy and sorrow. Many try to fight alone and give up the blessed fellowship of Christian unity in the body of Christ. With Christian pilgrims who are going our direction in life, we should join hands and say "As long as we are headed this way, let's do it together. In that relationship, the "little things" can be addressed in love and concern, rather than judgment and punishment.
Self-leadership becomes easy to put aside because we have learned how to "show up for the big stuff." Yet it is the little stuff that accountability is about. We too often let the "little things" go unaddressed until they are big, and then lives have been damaged and possibly even destroyed, all because we were too proud to accept or to ask for some accountability. In establishing a relationship of accountability with a trusted friend, you need to give permission, and even ask someone to ask you the tough questions about life, and thoughts, and sex and morality, and internet usage, and laziness, and relationship with wife and family. In short, in real accountability, the "little things" are the things that need addressing. Quite frankly, at the risk of TMI (too much information), I am far less concerned about my ability to preach on Sunday morning then I am about my ability to manage myself Monday-Saturday when no one is looking. Yet the real me is who I am when I am not preaching and teaching.
So I have to keep asking the question, If I can't lead me, how can I lead others?