“The most difficult person to lead is yourself.”
Stephen Graves made this statement in one of our leadership meetings and the moment he said it, I knew it was true. As a Worship Pastor, I’ve led lots of people – in production meetings and rehearsals, and in worship services.
But, that guy in the mirror is the biggest challenge I have.
Mike Glenn, Pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, often says, “The easiest person to lie to is yourself.” I realized a long time ago that some of my most creative thinking has been when I was trying to justify a decision I had made.
In his book, “Managing Me,” Graves outlines several realities about leading yourself. It’s the every day, moment-by-moment decisions that have the most profound impact on how well you’re managing yourself.
Graves writes, “You and I must effectively manage our own life before we earn the moral authority to step into managing someone else’s life.” (Managing Me, p. 25) When I first read that, it started me on a journey to understand myself more and to identify what helps me flourish – and what makes me stop in my tracks.
What I say “Yes,” to –
Every day, I am pounded with the invitation to give myself away – entertainment, hobbies, recreation, projects, work, and people that all demand my attention. I have to accept the reality that I do not have an infinite supply of energy and resources to invest.
I aspire to give my best energy to the eternal – my time with God, my relationships with people, my service of others. Those need to be the priorities.
What I say “No” to –
Sometimes I allow things into my mind that only take up energy and time and contribute very little if anything back to me. One of the worst examples of this is when a selfish or immature attitude creeps in and starts its own spin cycle in my mind. It is usually a story that has me at the center and that’s why I can easily dwell on it because I enjoy thinking about my feelings.
Sometimes, I just have to say “no” to those attitudes or they will consume my day and waste opportunities to serve.
Where I find my joy –
This is one of my highest goals in the quest of managing myself – choosing to find my joy in the right place. I wrote a little song a few years ago to help with this – it will never be published because it was written only to help me stay focused on this goal –
I find my joy in you, Jesus
All of my joy in You
Not in myself or what I may do
I find my joy in You.
When I look into my circumstances for joy, what I find is always very short-lived because it changes so much moment to moment. When I look at Jesus – what He has done in my life and what He has promised to do – I can find true and lasting joy because He never changes and never breaks a promise.
I am nowhere close to consistency in this pursuit. Every day presents a new and often different set of challenges. Moments of victory can be swallowed up with defeat. The great news is that God has promised to help me lead the hardest person I have to lead on my team.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.