A Leadership Example
I know of a martial arts instructor who has clearly mastered his art. Not many people could mess with this guy. Yet as he teaches, he displays humility in his leadership. He imparts his knowledge to others in a helpful and encouraging way, instead of lording it over them. He’s not on an ego trip. If a student doesn’t learn quickly enough, he’s not insecure. He teaches, he imparts, he empowers. He leads with EQ, emotional intelligence.
In contrast, many of us remember the antagonist instructor in the movie The Karate Kid. That guy was clearly on an ego trip. It was not about the kids, it was about him. He was dominating, demeaning, and cruel.
These two styles of leadership are exhibited in many forms – from business managers, educators, coaches, to even pastors and missionaries. Unfortunately I have met some missionaries who were on the field for all the wrong reasons. They were belittling toward the people group they worked with and arrogant toward others on the mission field who “did not know as much as they did.”
Leadership Through Healthy Identity
Proven in countless studies, wounded people seek positions of authority in order to dominate others. However, basic emotional wholeness and a solid identity enable an individual to move into influence that is life-giving, not domineering, to those under him. Healthy leadership is rooted in our identity, not in our authority. And our identity comes primarily from the way we were fathered.
The way a father responds to his children either builds identity in them or tears it down. This is a big responsibility. When a father has been diligent in establishing his child’s identity through healthy interaction, the child will have a sense of freedom, wholeness, and a willingness to risk. When a child has had his identity affirmed and his needs met by his father, he looks at the world as a positive place, where he can risk and accomplish things.
Yet when a child has not experienced his father’s provision and intimate relationship, then there is a fear factor, an insecurity, and a root of abandonment. This causes the child to be afraid of risks, ultimately causing them to be unable to walk freely in who they are as a person. Needs to control and dominate come from fear, and fear comes from unresolved issues of shame.
It is from true fathering that we are able to step into healthy leadership. Think of the Christian leader – whether in the market place or the church – that walks in healthy influence. They have healthy boundaries. If another person seeks to use guilt or manipulation on them, they respond lovingly yet with boundaries. Their “need to be needed” is healed; their identity is in Father’s love, not from the approval of others. If they have been hurt by someone, you can’t draw them into gossip or acting in a belittling way towards that person. Their values guide them. You feel secure around this type of healthy leadership. And though these leaders have significant positions and/or influence, they are secure enough to walk in servant-leadership. This type of leadership is life-giving. They use their skills, knowledge, and experience to help others and empower them – to serve them.
A Vision for You
It is possible to develop the skills to be this kind of fathering leader even if we were not “fathered” by one. As you seek to walk in wholeness and be healed yourself, people will be drawn to you as they sense the love, value and fathering you give. Healthy begets healthy. There are plenty of leaders in the world who control and dominate, but what people are yearning for are healthy leaders to influence, impart, and father them.