Who you are is how you lead.
And how you lead reveals why you lead.
I know that sounds obvious, but if you are not clear on why you lead the people entrusted to your care then those people will be unclear as well. If you are unclear, you will create unexpected problems for yourself.
Over the past week, we have commemorated the 20 anniversary of 9/11. Out of the stories we have heard, there is one story that stands out to me. It is the story of Father Mychal Judge, the first recorded death at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001. Among his responsibilities was to serve as a chaplain to several battalions of the New York Fire Department.
As I understand it, he died as he lived. He rushed into the North Tower with firefighters. When commanders gave orders to evacuate the building, he refused to abandon the hundreds of firefighters still trapped inside.
It is recorded that he said, “My work here is not finished.” Other priests came to Grand Zero, but Father Mychal was the only priest to enter the World Trade Center that day. He offered absolution, prayers, and the Last Rites in the lobby as death rained all around him. He died that day as the result of blunt force trauma. After his death, his fellow firefighters carried him out in an image described by one reporter as “the definition of authentic American patriotism and humble service.”
At his funeral, thousands of people showed up, describing how Father Mychal had helped them during their time of need. There were stories of medical care, clothing, housing, food, hope, and a future. He was known to have compassion for HIV/AIDS patients during a time when many were treated like lepers. It was reported that people thought of Mychal as a special friend, that is because he was.
These words were spoken about him, “This morning we come to bury Myke Judge’s body, but not his spirit. We come to bury his voice, but not his message. We come to bury his hands, but not his good works. We come to bury his heart, but not his love…” “In the next weeks, we’re going to have name after name of people being brought out of that rubble. And Mychal is going to be on the other side of death to greet them.”
In my opinion, Mychal Judge knew his “why”, his purpose in life. He lived his purpose and the people entrusted to his care experienced his compassion and care in simple but profound ways.
By now you might be wondering what the story of Mychal Judge has to do with leadership. What more would any of us want in a human being? His courageous actions were seen and reported as “the definition of authentic American patriotism and humble service.” I have no doubt about it. We need more people like Mychal Judge. My question is, was American patriotism and humble service his purpose for living?
I’ll answer my question by saying, “No.” They were the results of his purpose. Mychal Judge was created for the time he lived and served. God’s call upon his life was to share the love, the agape, of God, with the people he met in the situations and circumstances he found himself. He was an example of “…we love because God first loved us.”
Why Do You Lead?
So, why do you lead the way you do? Let me give you some of the reasons leaders lead and you decide if any of these fit you. Do you lead because you like…
- being in a position of authority and power?
- being set apart from other people?
- pointing out and fixing mistakes?
- the reward from good work?
Do you lead because you…
- feel good about helping others?
- can’t see yourself doing anything other than what you are doing?
- had an experience that you are trying to relive?
I am sure there are times one or more of these reasons crosses your mind, but I am equally sure none of them are the reasons you lead as you do.
You Are God’s Beloved
Who you are is how you lead and how you lead reveals why you lead. So, let me remind you:
You are beloved daughters and sons of God. You have been created to live and serve during this time in history. God’s call upon your life is to share the love, the agape, of God, with the people you meet in the situations and circumstances you find yourself in. You are an example of “…we love because God first loved us.”
Take time this week to reflect upon why you lead the way you do. What one thing will you do to share the love of God with the people entrusted to your care? How will you be an example of God’s love this week?
Let me remind you that Karen Cook, Sara Thomas, and I are with you on your leadership journey. When we can be of encouragement or, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are ready to assist you with insights and resources in becoming a courageous leader.
This week, check out LeaderCast. Sara Thomas and I have a conversation with Lizzy Ortiz regarding her leadership and ministry, We Are One Body in Christ. Listen to Episode 195 here. To become a regular LeaderCast listener, subscribe and receive a new episode each week as well as catch up on past episodes. LeaderCast is one resource you will want to have as you navigate the leadership challenges of 2021.
Who you are is how you lead.