If you’ve ever led a family, a team, or anything else, you probably know that leading is often painful. Sure, it’s also a privilege to lead and there are many blessings that come with it, but it’s important to be honest that a lot of the time it involves pain.
What sort of pain are we talking about? Let me count the ways… there’s the pain of not meeting your own expectations or the expectations of other people, the pain of conflict between people in your team or with you, the pain of feeling judged or rejected or misunderstood, the pain of seeing your own team members in pain, the pain of never being able to please everybody…and them letting you know about it, the pain of sacrificing some leisure time for leadership responsibilities, the pain of responding gracefully when you’d rather respond less than graciously, the pain of constant responsibility, the pain of not feeling led yourself, the pain of failure, the pain of feeling like you spend more time dealing with drama than being productive, the pain of compromise and never feeling like you’re able to give enough of yourself or your time to excel in the role. You might have your own examples to add to that list.
A number of years ago, I heard a powerful (and hilarious) talk by Craig Groeschel (Pastor of Life.Church and founder of the YouVersion Bible App) when he was in Australia in 2009. His key message was that, “A leader’s constant companion is pain.” (click this link to see an edited version of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdNk2AnMYnM). None of us like pain and we try to avoid it, but to get anywhere in life or to grow, we need to move into the pain.
Craig noted that God wants to increase the pain threshold of leaders in 3 key areas:
- Facing unjustified criticism and rejection – the higher you go, the more you’ll experience the pain of criticism and attacks from people.
- Making difficult decisions – often, we need to make decisions that are right but will hurt the feelings of some people.
- The pain of God’s pruning – sometimes, we need to be pruned and healed of the junk on our inside before God can use us to do good things in the world.
A challenge to take away – “Choose the pain of obedience over the comfort of disobedience.”
- What pain are you experiencing as a leader right now? What is causing you the greatest pain?
- What pain, or painful decision, have you been trying to avoid, but you know you need to tackle to move forward?
- What is ONE thing you can do today or this week to step into the pain?