For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. —Philippians 1:6
I’m a perfectionist by nature. I’m never satisfied with the status quo. I long for better and best, and I rarely let myself off the hook. I push myself. I beat myself up. I get impatient with my lack of growth. I grieve when I fail as a leader. I feel the weight of leadership every day. It’s a burden that I carry. It’s weighty. And honestly, sometimes it smothers me. It is difficult for me to find grace for myself. The urgency of the calling bears down on me, and I don’t feel like I have a minute to waste.
Everything we do as leaders affects those we lead, so the fear of my inadequacy as a leader can easily keep me up at night. But a calling isn’t meant to be a burden. A calling is meant to be compelling.
A calling is the unleashing of all of who we are for God’s great good.
The weight of responsibility, the fear of inadequacy, and the longing for perfection are all healthy tensions that keep us tethered to our greatest need as leaders: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength.
Several years ago I decided to add running to my exercise routine. I never considered myself a runner. In fact, going more than a mile or two never felt doable. But after much prompting by my husband, I was convinced I needed to stick with it and see if I had more in me than I thought. For several weeks I did a walk/run rhythm for a two-mile route. I identified sections of the route that I ran and sections that I gave myself permission to walk. Every week I shortened the walking sections, thereby increasing the running sections. It was slow, but it was progress. The first time I completed that two-mile route by running the entire thing, I was elated with an achievement I didn’t think I had in me.
But even though I had achieved it, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t experience the runner’s high that real runners speak of. I kept at it, though, adding a half mile every few months. The first time I ran a full five miles, something began to change. I was pretty sure I had finally experienced the runner’s high. About three miles in I didn’t feel like I was striving. I was running with ease. My breathing was steady and controlled. My legs were fluid and light. I felt like I could run forever. Runner’s World magazine describes the pace at which this phenomenon occurs as “comfortably challenging.” 1
Leading with our whole self — heart, soul, mind, and strength — is like experiencing that runner’s high. It happens when all the dimensions are working fluidly together and you’re experiencing progress toward your goal. Like long-distance running, extraordinary leadership can’t be achieved without work, focus, discipline, and perseverance. It requires developing muscles that we didn’t know we had. It requires committing to regular practice, continuing to engage with our team, pushing ourselves a little further than we’re comfortable, and selecting carefully what fuels us and provides energy.
Extraordinary leadership emerges from a commitment deep within us. It’s not a fad to follow or a new method to model. Leading with everything we are means putting everything we have on the line for the cause we are compelled by. Heart, soul, mind, and strength leaders know their leadership takes work, engagement, commitment, perseverance, and determination. Much like a runner’s high, leadership highs won’t happen the first time you exercise your leadership muscle. In fact, you’ll lead every day but only feel those moments of effortless joy occasionally. But when you experience them, they keep you going for days and months more.
Heart, soul, mind, and strength leadership is possible. God hasn’t called you to a place of influence to leave you ill equipped for the responsibility. I still marvel that his formula for leadership is grounded in his instruction for everyone. Love God. Love others. So simple yet so profound.
Philippians 1:6 says,
He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Perfection isn’t a goal to be attained today or tomorrow. It’s a lifelong journey that won’t be realized until the day we arrive on heaven’s doorstep. The pursuit of perfection is the wrong goal because it’s more about loving self than loving God and loving others. Extraordinary doesn’t mean perfect. Extraordinary means the pursuit of God’s Great Commandment. And in the pursuit of leading with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength, the perfecting continues.
May your leadership be an overflow of all of who you are: heart, soul, mind, strength.
Watch the Video for The Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership
1 K. Aleisha Fetters, “How to Achieve a Runner’s High,” Runner’s World, April 25, 2014, http://www.runnersworld.com/running -tips/how-to-achieve-a-runners-high.
Excerpted with permission from Four Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership by Jenni Catron, copyright Jennifer Catron.
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You, right where you are in life, are called to be an extraordinary leader. Heart, soul, mind, and strength leadership is possible. How and where are you leading and loving God and others today? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you!