What Do Leaders Have to Give Up?

Angela Booth in her excellent writing blog includes a writers’ prompt each week. Her most recent exercise suggests: “You’ve met a genii, and have been offered three wishes. You can have anything at all. But… there’s a catch. You must give up something of importance to you. So, what are your three wishes? And what will you give up?”

In leadership as well as in life, there is often a direct connection between what I want and what I have to give up. Here are three wishes we as leaders may have: 1) to get to our goals, 2) to have an impact over time 3) to have good relationships with those we lead. But we don’t get these things for free. To get to our goals, we have to give up being liked by everyone, not always easy for church leaders. To have an impact over time, we have to give up the notion that there is a magic bullet, a formula or program which will make our dreams come true, and hold on to the long view. To have good relationships with those we lead, we have to give up the idea we can control others. We can find leadership easier when we focus more on ourselves and how we function than we do on others.

We may not have a church genie offering to grant our wishes, but I do believe God is at work in congregational life. If we’re motivated, God can help us little by little to let go of the things that get in the way of real progress in our own leadership.

Try this as an exercise for yourself: Write three pages about three things you really want for your leadership, and what you’ll have to give up to get them.

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