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Posts Tagged ‘teachability’


The 4th chapter of Roger Parrott’s The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders gave me plenty to ponder.  I’ve been mulling over it for a few weeks now.

It is entitled Vulnerability May Get You In, but Humility Keeps You There.  He there outlines some of the differences between transparency and humility which can greatly affect one’s ability to lead a group of people.  I’m part of that transitional generation when transparency began to be advocated after generations of a lack of transparency from leaders about their shortcomings and mistakes.  Parrott writes some things to challenge this.

“But (a pastor) exposing himself in order to demonstrate vulnerability diminishes his ability to be sought after as a counselor who can be looked to for advice.”

At first I am thinking, they need to know I’ve struggled and God has been faithful.  They can’t see me as impervious to sin or above struggling with things.  I’ve talked about my struggles to put unrighteous anger and selfishness to death.  But there are struggles I’ve not shared publicly.  I may share them in private ministry, but not for everyone’s ears.

“While pride is an unattractive quality in leaders, humility is a strength that compels others to follow.  In an effort to be seen as humble, many leaders have wrongfully substituted vulnerability for humility, and in doing so turned a self-centered spotlight on themselves, laying the groundwork for leadership deterioration.”

This is the key thing, substituting vulnerability for humility.  They are not the same thing, and sometimes vulnerability is driven by pride.  Either pride in wanting the spotlight, or in manipulating others to follow through the sharing of secrets.  Parrott notes that many a vulnerable pastor had bigger secrets that lead to a public moral collapse (think Jim Bakker & Jimmy Swaggart).

“Leaders who purposefully expose their liabilities limit their sphere of influence and often forfeit their long-term viability. … Humility and vulnerability are two different things, and the first must be established without offering the second.”

Vulnerability makes you vulnerable, in the wrong way.  You are not merely accessible to others, but leave the gates open for the hordes to attack and oust you.  I’ve experienced this as some people have turned the table on my transparency.  They hide behind the claim that I will get angry and yell at them, without any prior evidence for this.  I have been yelled at many times- no one seems to be afraid to yell at their pastor.  As leaders, we must remember that people are not basically good.  Some people will use the truth against you.

Humility is the most important element of leadership.  Humility means being willing to listen readily instead of thinking you have all the answers.  They think about, and talk about others more than they think and talk about themselves.  But this humility is combined with an “intense professional will”.  This person keeps others focused on the organization and its goals, and how they fit into the plan rather than how the leader fits into the plan.  Most often, effective leaders are able to influence people without direct confrontation and exercising power.  As Mark Driscoll talks about, control and influence are inversely correlated.  The more control you exert, the less influence you will have.

One way in which humility fits in here is the teachable spirit.  A teachable spirit, a willingness to listen to one’s critics, minimizes power differentials.  Unteachable leaders maximize the power differential and reduce their influence over others.  This fits well in the longview.  To remain longterm, you must be humble and teachable.  This means you will learn to work with others in light of eternal perspectives rather than using powerplays to achieve short-term victories.

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