Leadership

Why I Don’t Trust You

I’m not the most experienced leader around by any means, but I think I’ve noticed some things over the years that have proven true repeatedly. One of the strongest of these patterns is that there are some people doing amazing work that I just can’t feel good about. Something about them makes me very uncomfortable. When I think a little more deeply I can see that in a lot of cases these are leaders who have drive, charisma, and passion that far exceeds my own; so maybe I’m intimidated or jealous. But I think it’s actually that I perceive them as lacking humility. I don’t necessarily they are obviously arrogant. That’s thankfully rare. The issue is that they seem to always have an answer, a plan, and a certainty that makes them seem larger than life, and a little bit inauthentic. Today I was reminded of the great transformation from Genesis 32 where Jacob (whose name means “schemer”) finally finds himself in a situation he can’t deke, duck, or dance his way out of. The guy who was always able to slip out of trouble is caught in the grip of someone who can’t be shaken off. After battling all night he is released to go on in life with a permanent limp and a new name, Israel (which means “He struggles with God”). It turns out that Israel is much more useful and deeply connected to God than Jacob ever was. I’m nervous around leaders of any age who don’t have that limp; who never seem at a loss and always have complete confidence in their direction. They seem impenetrable, which is dangerous. I’m drawn to those who have faced struggle, failure, and deep disappointment and continue on transformed. Not with the struggles all behind them, but with the quiet faith that doesn’t guarantee results or rely on their self assured abilities. I’ve always loved drawing out that sincerity in others. I’m becoming a little bit afraid that one of the things I may find myself doing in the next few years is being with Jacobs as they become Israels. I much prefer arriving on the scene after the struggle and offering first aid and encouragement. Being present when the wounds are inflicted is scary, it may expose more of my own frailties than I want to display.