One of the Best Things You Can Do for the People You Lead

Several years ago I read Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership for a graduate school class. It’s about those areas of vulnerability we all have. Without self awareness and accountability those weak areas can lead to all kinds of bad stuff.



The book came with an inventory to identify your particular area of vulnerability. When I took it years ago I was labeled a “Narcissistic Leader.” According to the inventory I tend to seek people’s approval.

My guess is that I’m not alone. I haven’t met many people who truly don’t care what other people think about them. In general, we all want people to like us.

There’s a similar trap we can fall into when it comes to making disciples. If you’re like me there are times when you’ll try to impress people, maybe even the people you lead. This is tempting. Who doesn’t want to be impressive?

The reality is that being impressive isn’t sustainable. Eventually, we all do or say something that’s not impressive. At our core we’re all sinful, broken, unimpressive people.

We learn to follow Jesus by watching other people follow Jesus. We need access to other people’s lives who are following Jesus. We’re impressed by people from a distance. But, we learn to follow Jesus by watching another disciple closely.

This is what Jesus did with the twelve disciples. 

Think about the things Jesus never did. He never wrote a book. He never traveled more than about 150 miles from his hometown. He lived a relatively short life. Yet, we’re still talking about what he did today.

Jesus spent three years with twelve men. They ate together. They traveled together. They worked together. They had full access to Jesus’ life. When the three years were over they knew what to do and how to do it.

The disciples watched Jesus closely. They saw what he did. He gave them access to his life. He gave them a model to follow. Jesus gave them something they could repeat and they repeated it to the ends of the earth.

We’ve got to ask ourselves: Do I want to keep people at a distance? Or, do I want to give people access to my life?

Granted, a person who’s following Jesus is living a compelling life. We should be like salt and light (Mt. 5:13-16). We should make the places where we live and work better. It would be fair to call this kind of life impressive.

But, there are times when my insecurities cause me to keep people at an arm’s length. I’m afraid they won’t be impressed if they get close. I have to push through these feelings and so do you.

Following Jesus is simple. It isn’t easy. Jesus demands total allegiance, total commitment, and total sacrifice (Luke 14:26-33). But, it’s a lot more doable than many people think it is. 

We need to follow Jesus’ example: give people access to our lives and give them a model they can follow.

If your goal is to make disciples the last thing you’d ever want someone to say about you is, “They’re impressive. I could never do what they do.”

What you really want those following you to say is, “I can do this.” That’s one of the best things you can do for them.

What are your thoughts? I’d love for you to chime in! Leave a comment below.

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