Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Group Magazine–the world’s most-read youth ministry resource. For more information, visit groupmagazine.com and get these great articles delivered right to your mailbox or iPad!
My phone just rang again with another agonizing report of a leader who’s out of the game due to some agonizing personal choices. My mind races with other names who’ve joined that sad list—people who could’ve given so much to kids. Allow me to briefly “preach to the choir” with the reminder that it’s far too easy for our charisma to outstrip our character.
Oswald Chambers said, “The future is with the disciplined. And without discipline, the gifts of a leader, no matter how great, will never reach their maximum potential.” Let’s take his wise advice one step further. Without discipline, the gifts of a leader can become highly dangerous. We can become so verbal that we begin talking rings around the people we should be listening to. We can become so influential that our influence slowly erodes into manipulation. We can become so much a public representative of God that our private relationship with him becomes past tense.
Some simple warning signs let me know when I’m getting out of touch with Christ in my personal life. See if any resonate with you:
• I speak often from my head but rarely from my heart.
• I speak about yesterday and have nothing fresh from today.
• I speak about what I’ve learned rather than what I’m learning.
• I cease to answer my own altar calls.
• I long more for the approval of people than of God.
• I internally resent those around me who question my decisions or authority.
The ultimate bottom line for me is the stark realization that it’s much easer to get followers than it is to be worthy of being followed. Our talent can become deadly—kind of like an octopus on roller skates. From the outside, we produce plenty of movement but never know which direction we’re really going.
Recently, I received a sincere compliment. “Jeanne, your character is so consistent that predicting you is a little boring,” someone said laughingly. I paused and then said thanks. I’m not sure I’ve ever been called boring before, but in that context, I celebrated. By God’s grace, I’m determined to be better at leading myself than at leading others.
So here’s a new goal: Aspire to be consistent enough in your character that people will someday call you a little boring. While they may be yawning, Jesus will be smiling. ◊