follow the leader

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I’ve got a great group of guys I meet with weekly. We talk about life, how we’re feeling, and we do some good ol’ fashion Bible studying. It’s always a good time and I’m thankful to have such friends. 

During a recent hangout, we re-read the familiar story of David and Bathsheba. As is usually the case, I discovered something new this time. 

I noticed how David’s more failing and deceptive cover-up resulted in a breakdown of trust and obedience going down his chain of command all the way to a common messenger. No one does exactly what they’re told to, including the only righteous dude in the whole story, Uriah the Hittite. Ultimately, it leads to the death of an honest man and others with him.

It’s a perfect demonstration of the famous line from Marmion,

“Oh! What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

I’ve seen the same thing happen with some leaders in my own life and I’m certain my own times of dishonesty have led to other’s harm.

The mantle of leadership is a heavy one because it carries with it the wellbeing of many others.

I have yet to meet a person who didn’t want to be a leader in some way. Perhaps in their field of research, among coworkers, or even in their fantasy football league.

Creatives are no different. We desire to set the standard, to have others who look up to us and respect our person and position. We long to become a source of inspiration to many, to impact those around through what we make.

At the same time, most full-grown adults are a leader in some capacity or another. There is likely someone younger or less experienced in your life who sees you as a leader, whether or not you see yourself that way.

Sadly, very few people consider the responsibilities of being a leader and the consequences of being a bad one. Or maybe they just don’t care. 

You don’t have to look far to find a disgraced or cruel leader who has left a trail of hurt in their wake.

But what makes a good leader? It’d take too long to cover the full gamut here, and there are many great books on the subject, but one quality I’ve admired is humility.

At a leadership conference I heard the phrase, 

“Be thick-skinned and soft-hearted.” 

It’s a good place to start: willing to let the negative stuff bounce off you while still showing love to the people under your care and guidance. 

A leader is someone who other people follow. But a good leader first learns what it means to follow someone else, to learn under another and to grow in empathy.

A good leader gets where they are by learning, but also remains humble enough to continue learning, even when that means accepting correction from another, perhaps even a “follower.”

Consider some of the qualities you most appreciate in a leader. Do you emulate them?

Who might be following you? Have you helped them by setting a good example or led them astray through dishonest speech and practice?

I’ve always found the phrase, “do what I say, not what I do,” to be extremely hypocritical. Honestly, that mindset ticks me off. It’s a personal excuse to harm others with no concern for their wellbeing. 

It’s a poor disguise. Actions, after all, speak louder than words. 

Ultimately, every leader, no matter how few their followers, will be known by their actions. Let yours be good, honest, and, whenever possible, creative.

A.P. Lambert

A.P. Lambert is a creative professional who helps others live with creativity and purpose.