A leader must be emotionally secure.
I’m not a big “sports guy” but I’ve been watching Alabama football all season with my wife Heather (@HeatherTeis) all season. Roll Tide! Though I know all of the rules to football, learned through hundreds of hours of playing Techmo Super Bowl with Matt as a child, I’ve just never been that big of a fan. (I know, I’m a nerd) However, I’ve learned a few things this season.
One thing I’ve learned is the importance of the Offensive Line. The most famous players tend to be quarterbacks, wide-receivers, and the occasional running-back. Hardly do you hear the praises of an offensive lineman. Yet, it’s pretty obvious that the quarterback would be unable to do his job if he didn’t have the offensive line blocking every attack.
Here’s my question, who is your offensive line?
Who do you have in your life that will block you from the promised attacks (Eph. 2:1-3)? A wise leader will surround himself with a network of individuals that will love, support, challenge, defend and sharpen him. A wise leader will cultivate these relationships knowing that they are utterly unable to do their job without these people in their life.
These are people you look up to and admire. They do what you do and one day you’d like to be like them. They give you a target to shoot for, a goal to live up to. For the Christian leader our first, and most important model, is Christ (Heb. 12:2-3). He is our example of love, humility, patience, kindness, grace, and truth. For those who follow Christ there is still room for other models in your life. They may be current leaders or historical figures. Men or women who stand out from the crowd and accomplished something great. These models remind us from afar that those who accomplish great things are often greatly attacked and endured tremendous difficulties. Who are you modeling your life after?
These are models to which you happen to have access. They coach you and invest in you. I watched as my father was mentored by a man named Sumner Wemp, an old baptist preacher from a bygone era. He taught my father how to evangelize. He taught my father how to love his wife. He taught my father how to disagree and remain friends. He challenged my father, encouraged my father, and at times, rebuked my father. At times of emotional upheaval my father could talk with Sumner and be restored to the necessary calm. Sumner is dead. He is in heaven with our Lord. Now my father has become the mentor and guides, encourages, and challenges me. I genuinely feel bad for men who have either rejected their mentor or never have been given this incredible gift. My mentor and I don’t always agree. I guess its common for Padawans and Jedi Masters to see things differently. (I told you I was a nerd) But we have an unspoken agreement: he never discourages me and I never disrespect him. (Prov. 11:14)
The life journey of a leader can be lonely… don’t travel alone. These are people who are closest to you and are partnering with you in life. My deacons come to mind. God has given me four godly men each of whom have a godly wife. I have heard the horror stories of deacons who believed it was their responsibility to discourage the pastor. God help the pastor who has to deal with such villains. I thank God for these men who pray for me, love me, support me, challenge my thinking and ultimately follow my lead. God has also provided a group of young pastors who I have drawn very close to. These men keep me accountable and remind me of the great thing we have been called to do. They are my partners and they lift me up when I am down and speak into my life kindness when I am emotionally drained. I love my partners, my friends and would not be emotionally secure without their love. (Prov. 27:17)
IV. Inner Circle
These are the ones who know the truth about you, but they still love you. They are partners, yes… but more than partners. They are the ones who should leave you when they see your human frailties but choose to love and support anyway. In this group you will find family and friends. God has given me a pretty cool family. My brother Matt, and my three sisters are still some of my closest friends. We all know this… no matter what happens in life… we five still have each other.
Heather is my closest friend in my inner circle, followed by Fred Murray (@fredmurrayjr) , Jason Coombes (@pastorcoombes), and Steven Miller (@pastorsteve82). These four people remind me who I am in Christ and what my mission in life is all about. I am their leader, yes. But they are also my Inner circle. They have seen me in my most vulnerable moments. I have seen them. I need them and have become dependent upon them. It’s interesting to note that even Jesus had an inner circle in the form of Peter, James and John. I believe the reason some men are emotionally unstable is because they have never opened themselves up to an inner circle. (Ecc. 4:9-10)
Emotional security is a must for every leader. If you find one of the above categories lacking then be diligent in building it up. Don’t convince yourself that you are strong enough without these people in your life. Without this network of individuals you’d be as worthless as AJ McCarron without his offensive line.
Who are your Models? Do you see the importance of Mentors in your life? How does your inner circle build your emotional security? Do you see the correlation of emotional insecurity and lack of successful leadership?