Character and leadership

Published 10:57 pm Friday, January 20, 2012

By Chris Surber

Barely a week after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I am still thinking about transforming leadership and the character of a man who changed the world through love-empowered submission to his task.

Leadership isn’t easy. Leadership is about setting an example. It is about making difficult decisions and doing so with confidence.

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An early mentor of mine, the late Dr. Ken Gangel, once told me that every leader actually has to be ever so slightly overly convinced of his or her own position in order to lead with confidence. The trick, he said, is to do that with humility, which is the fruit of character.

It has taken me years to really understand what he meant. Character is forged in the fires of affliction, trial, hardship and labor. It is not a free gift. It must be earned. Similarly, true leadership is a privilege that must be earned and maintained. It is not a right that is simply given.

Every business leader earns the right to lead as he puts the needs of his organization and the people who comprise it before himself. Each politician earns the right to lead when his promises match his actions, verifying his character.

Even the gift of leadership in the home is the gift of God, and we prove ourselves faithful to our charge as parents by the degree to which we put our love into action in the shaping of our children’s character.

If we would lead others, we must first be willing to lead ourselves. Isn’t it a little bit crazy to be angry about our inability to make others the way that we think they should be when we are unable even to make ourselves into what we think we should be?

It has been well said that “A crooked stick will have a crooked shadow.” Any who wish to lead as Dr. King led, any who wish to love the way that a beloved grandmother loved them, any who wish to shape others must first be willing to shape themselves and participate in becoming what God desires for us to be — confident leaders of character in our homes, churches

and communities.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV84)