A Holy Spirit By-Pass

My last post talked about leadership growing pains. I shared my experience and some things that can help you. I missed one vital ingredient.

When we feel that we have reached our limit or that our head keeps hitting the ceiling of our own capabilities then as a Christian leader we need to have an understanding that there is another way to breakthrough the barrier. It involves us stressing less, it involves not just endeavouring in our strength to increase our capability and our capacity.

Instead it may involve us getting out of the way.

It may involve us working like it depends on us but praying like it depends on God.

It’s not about running faster on the hamster wheel of busyness or trying to work smarter. Instead it’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to break that ceiling. It’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in to all truth. When we struggle for answers, the Holy Spirit can impart wisdom. When get stuck at a leadership roadblock, it’s the Holy Spirit that can help navigate the journey.

God can do in 5 minutes by the power of the Holy Spirit something that may just kill us off if we only try doing it for ourselves.

We must be leaders who pray, read, learn, think, question.

But…above all these, we must be leaders who ask the Holy Spirit to lead us as leaders, to impart wisdom, to help us solve those knotty problems, to break the ceiling on our leadership.

Leadership Growing Pains

In 25 years of leadership I have hit my head a few times, both literally and metaphorically speaking.

Literally as a youth leader, when games have gone wrong, plus there was the one time I could include when I got head-butted for Jesus. These occasions hurt, especially the pride, and they often left their mark too.

It’s the hitting my head in a leadership sense that has been more of a challenge to deal with.

When I look back on my leadership journey I can see a number of pivotal moments when my head hit the ceiling, so to speak. The ceiling which represents both my leadership capability and my leadership capacity. Every time I hit my head I had a decision to make. Do I sit down, feel the pain, get fed up with it and quit being a leader OR do I work out what I need to do, what I need to learn, what can help raise the ceiling and create greater leadership capability within me and increase my capacity?

In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell calls it the ‘Law of the Lid’. We all have one but the best thing is we can lift that lid.

I have clear recollections as a leader of not knowing what to do, of wondering how to work something out, thinking I will never be able to carry that increased level of responsibility, or know how to handle certain circumstances. Yet here I am, on the other side of what I would simply call, my leadership growing pains.

It’s an interesting dynamic that all leaders have to negotiate. I want to grow as a leader but I don’t like the discomfort it can cause. I want to be challenged yet I don’t always enjoy what that challenge might bring my way.

However, hitting my head as a leader became my new norm. I accepted that it would be a continuos part of my journey as I had a desire to grow as a leader. I made the choice that even if it was difficult to deal with the growth, that even if the stretch was tough, I would not quit.

Instead I learned to become aware of when I may hit my head. I started looking ahead. I kept on reading, learning, watching other leaders, listening to the right kind of wisdom. I began to work on raising the ceiling on my leadership in preparation for what may be ahead.

Many young leaders have come and gone since I began. Amongst the different reasons for not walking with God or staying on the leadership journey, this unwillingness to do what it takes to grow well is possibly in the top 3. We hit our head, we don’t like it, we see that effort is needed to breakthrough and we just don’t bother.

We need more Christian leaders who can stand the test of time. Who will stand for God. Who will not only ‘do’ the job of a leader but also learn what it means to live the life of a leader. Who will acknowledge that it’s not easy but worth it. Who can keep themselves healthy, teachable, protect their character and integrity, as well as keep a walk with God as the most important aspect of their life.

5 quick things [not in any order of importance] that I do to make sure I’m always raising the lid on my leadership…

1. Carpet Time. There is absolutely no substitute for time spent with God. Pray like your leadership life depends on it.

2. Reading. I always have books on the go and not just leadership ones.

3. Learn the Word of God. I need to hear Gods voice. I get a bit antsy when I’m not sure what God is saying. His Word is the best way for me to hear him so I read it every day.

4. Space to think. Not necessarily a week away. The other day I took 20 minutes to walk around the block by the office. It’s enough as a change of scenery, to talk to God, and clear my head.

5. Ask questions. Of yourself, of other leaders, of the tasks and projects you have. What am I trying to achieve? Where can I learn about this? Who could help me?

Bonus thought: It’s not all on you. Involve others in your world and get them to help you carry all that you are carrying. Glean from their wisdom. When I think I am the only person who can do a certain something, that’s when I’m heading for the low ceiling and about to get a bruise.


What would you add from your own experience of ensuring that you are always in growth mode so that your head never hits that leadership ceiling?

My Confrontation Experience

This has been hard to write about, that’s why the post is late today. Confrontation is very rarely easy, in fact it can be downright terrifying, whichever party you are.

I remember very clearly a meeting I was called to with the sole agenda of discussing some of my lifestyle choices. I was 22. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. I hated every moment.

It was all of these thing,s for just one reason – my leaders were right.

Confrontation is not easy to take at the best of times but it’s especially difficult when what you are being told about yourself is actually the truth. Awkward.

Here’s what I have learned when I think back to being confronted at that time in my life…

1. They spoke to me because they loved me. They believed in me.
2. They had a strong desire to protect my leadership credibility.
3. They had a bigger view and saw the dangers that I was blind to. They had an eye on my future, while mine was just on the now.
4. They were making sure I didn’t sabotage my God-given destiny for what were just selfish behaviours.

I recognise it took courage for that conversation to take place. If it’s unpleasant to receive a confronting, then as a leader delivering the confronting to others is equally as tough.

However, if you truly love the people you lead then it’s unavoidable. After all, whether we like it or not it’s usually through the tougher conversations that people will grow. Confrontation from a good leader is the stretch so often required as preparation for next phase of life. Delivered from a place of love and care for the person it’s an incredibly powerful leadership quality.

I’m not sure I want to think about where I could be now if that ‘chat’ hadn’t happened. It saved me from my immature self and it made me a better leader. Added of course to all the other similar ‘chats’ that have happened since.

What’s your experience of confrontation?
How has it helped you grow as a leader?

Check out the previous posts from last month based around my 19 idea and what I have learned as a leader  19  Steps  People  Challenge