I’ve talked here about The Leader Box, and why as leaders we often want to function from “inside the box.” I’m suggesting that as a leader, if you can acknowledge your own failures and brokenness with your people, you point people to God’s strength – rather than your own – and this encourages them and gives them hope.
So how do you get out of the box? First, you have to be willing to let people in. This doesn’t mean everyone. We can discern pretty quickly the people who are not trustworthy or have an ulterior motive. But you have to share your story – your real story – and be honest about your pain. You have to begin to trust your people before you know if they’re trustworthy. For me, I’ve worked hard to share personally and unpack some of my issues, so people know that our church is a place where we strive to be real with each other. I know now that I have a trusted group of friends; they can be vulnerable with me, and I can be vulnerable with them. They can challenge me, and I can challenge them. I think this is especially important for your staff, elders, and leadership – you need an open relationship that goes both ways.
Here’s an example. If you always come into a room to lead, if you’re always and immediately coming in to tell people what to do or where “we’re” going, step back and consider how to let them tell you. One thing I did to break open my own box was to have a meeting with my staff. And I said, “If there’s anything you see in me that doesn’t reflect Jesus, you have the right, and the responsibility, and the permission to tell me.” This means that when someone comes and says, “Hey, can I meet with you?” You have to trust them enough to know they’re doing it because they love you, and you’re doing it because you love Jesus.
Would you be willing to let the leaders around you tell you when you are not reflecting Jesus? The first step to get out of the box is inviting others into your life.