the shape of leadership

Guarding Your Heart in Leadership

How to overcome the enemies that war within

Leadership is an emotional minefield. One day you feel on top of the world, and the next you feel like throwing in the towel. It’s a constant tug-of-war between faith and fear, humility and pride, offense and forgiveness, and guilt and grace.

Add to the emotions of leadership the various vices that aim to take us out — things like pride, cynicism and insecurities. All of these converge as enemies of the heart, and they have the power to undermine our life and leadership.

The question is, how do you overcome these enemies that war within you? This edition of Make It Count explores 10 common issues of the heart, and how leaders can successfully guard their hearts against each one.

1. Insecurity: Leading When You Feel Unqualified. We all experience some measure of insecurity, but when we find ourselves lacking, Christ is our source of security.

2. Jealousy: Leading When Others Are Succeeding. King Saul kept a jealous eye on David after the young man’s victory over Goliath. As leaders, we may be tempted to respond the same way when others succeed. Instead, we should give thanks and celebrate.

3. Anger: Leading When You’re Mad. Sometimes people do things that spark a flame of anger inside us. However, the apostle Paul gives us a recipe to defeat our anger by being kind, compassionate and forgiving.

It’s a constant tug-
of-war between
faith and fear,
humility and pride,
offense and forgiveness, and
guilt and grace.

4. Pride: Leading When You Want the Credit. Jesus repeatedly warned of the dangers from pride. To defeat this deadly sin, we have to practice the Golden Rule, ask more questions, share the credit, and get in the trenches.

5. Burnout: Leading When You’re Exhausted. Leadership is relentless, and burnout is a very real culprit that’s taking out countless leaders. Thankfully, there are practical steps we can take to live and lead at a sustainable pace.

6. Offense: Leading When You’re Wounded. Leadership is not for the faint of heart, and if we don’t protect our hearts, we’ll personalize the wounds that come our way. We have to simultaneously develop soft hearts and thick skin. 

7. Cynicism: Leading When You’ve Lost Hope. Cynicism can quickly settle in when we become jaded by the pain of leadership. The key is to remain hopeful in the midst of hardship so we can finish well in life and in leadership.

8. Guilt: Leading When You Need Grace. Leaders live under a microscope. Everyone has an opinion about what we do wrong and how we could do better. Thankfully, God invites us to lead out of grace rather than guilt.

9. Fear: Leading When You’re Scared. Fear and leadership go hand in hand, because leaders chart the way into new territory. Like Joshua, we can trust in God’s promises rather than letting fear paralyze us.

10. Worry: Leading When You’re Uncertain. Leaders dwell in the land of uncertainty. There is always something to worry about, but worship helps us reframe our perspective.

As you discuss these 10 lessons with your team, you’ll learn how to navigate common challenges and guard your heart in the process.

Find these downloadable lessons here.

This article appears in the Fall 2021 edition of Influence magazine.

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