It takes a lot of confidence to be a leader – confidence in who you are, in your ideas, and your ability to bring people together in the pursuit of common goals. Sadly, many leaders anchor their confidence in the wrong places. Some of us look to our personality, others to our education, some to our achievements, and others to our abilities. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of that, there is a troubling common denominator. Ourselves.
Even when it comes to leadership development in the church, much of what we do is designed to increase our confidence in ourselves. We learn how to lead better meetings, preach better sermons, cast more compelling vision, and design more innovative ministries. Again, nothing wrong with that. Leaders who don’t know what they’re doing hurt a lot of people. So we should develop competence.
We just need to be aware that while we are working to develop competence, God is also working to develop brokenness.
“It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”AW Tozer
We see this time and again in Scripture, with nearly every great leader in the Bible. Consider three quick examples. Moses spends 40 years in exile before he is called to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. David is tormented by Saul before he one day takes his place on the throne of Israel. Paul needed to be knocked to the ground before God could lift him up as a leader in the church.
Brokenness teaches us a new and different kind of confidence – a confidence rooted not in ourselves but in God’s love, character, promises, and purpose. Confidence rooted in God is noticeably different from confidence rooted in ourselves. Ego is replaced with humility. Competition is replaced by collaboration. Envy is replaced by celebration. Fear is replaced with courage. Insecurity is replaced by trust.
This confidence in God is what we need to aim for as followers of Jesus. Yes, pursue competence. But don’t fear brokenness. God is using both to prepare the kind of leaders His church desperately needs.