I don’t know if you noticed but we are people of excuses. We make excuses to ourselves and to others to justify situations. We make excuses for why we are late to a meeting or on meeting a deadline. We make excuses for our bad habits. We make excuses for our kids. We even teach our kids how to make excuses for themselves. I was recently reminded that non-leaders make excuses while leader make changes. When you and I make excuses for our behavior it reflects our lack of desire, or unwillingness, to change and get better. Real change happens in our lives when we start to lead ourselves.
We kicked off a new series on leadership this past Sunday titled, “What it takes to be a leader.” We began with looking at Leading Myself. One of many passages that stood out to me in my studies was Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 6:39-40. “He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Jesus is encouraging those listening to Him not to be content with the status quo. He desires for growth in their relationship with God. He wants them to grasp that this requires them to become the leader of their own lives. They would never grow if they continue to follow poor leaders, whether it is another person like the Pharisees, or themselves.
The famous pastor, Charles Spurgeon pointed out three insights on this passage that I have reworded as application statements for the Christian. First, I need to be challenged by people that are different than me. Spurgeon pointed out that our tendency is to seek people that our like us, hence the blind following the blind. We are the same way. We like people that think like us, that tell us what we want to hear. We avoid those that challenge us. We like the teacher that is easy. We like the coach that does not make us work too hard. We avoid classes that are difficult. We avoid people that disagree with us. We turn down opportunities that will change us. The end result is we miss opportunities to grow.
Second, I need to follow those that will help me go to the next level. The simple reality is that as Jesus states, “everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” You will never grow if you are not being challenged. Just like exercise strengthens our bodies, goals help us to develop as leaders. Leading myself means that I am challenging myself to improve in areas. I am also seeking out others that can help me get better in a certain area.
Third, the point of the parable can be seen in the statement, “Will they not both fall into a pit?” We wind up in the ditch when we follow the wrong leaders. We also fall into the ditch when we fail to lead ourselves. This means that the follower of Christ is striving to apply Jesus’ teaching in their life each day. Most of the Christian’s life is a process that requires discipline. This takes leadership, self-leadership. The leader does not make excuses, whine or complain but asks “How do we fix this?” and then implements the changes necessary. What will be your first step in beginning to lead yourself?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson