17 May, 2012

A bad example

One of the things I'm a bit tired of is seeing leaders set bad examples for those of us who follow them.

We have to consider what we are passing on to
those who follow behind us.
Some leaders, and, let's face it many people, don't prioritise well. They take on too many things and then work is a higher priority than almost anything else in their lives — over family, over rest, even over doing the best job they can at the work they have to do.

Then, if it gets too bad, they start to make excuses to other people. Excuses about why they can't complete things on time, excuses about why you must accommodate them. Excuses that sound valid, but basically mean, "I've said yes to too many things, and now you have to excuse me because I haven't got enough time left to attend to what I promised to do."

I understand that leadership is a demanding role. And I understand the ever-pressing demand that comes from living in a land where 99% of the residents don't believe in Jesus. I know that God has given different people different amounts of energy, health, and different family situations. He's also give us each different levels of ability to cope with work.

And I understand that I can't compare my capacity to work with someone else, but these leaders (or even people who go before, who are further along on their journey in life) aren't helping those who follow or who come behind them.

What they are subtly saying with their actions is that this is the way you should work, this is the way you should live. Whether we realise it or not, people watch how we conduct ourselves and sometimes take that on as a model for how they live. When leaders set poor boundaries, I feel pressured not to set good boundaries. When they don't take time off to rest, I feel pressured to do the same. When they pile so much into their schedule that they have to produce a lower quality of work, I'm tempted to do the same.

I wrote the following back in this post about stress-factors in the missionary lifestyle:

Balance between family and ministry
This is a challenge any family in ministry faces. Not just that you have to set your own limits, then you have to refrain from criticising other people's decisions and from comparing yourself negatively with others.

Hmmm, so I need to try hard not to criticise others, but it is hard when it impacts on my work as well as makes it difficult to set clear boundaries for myself and my family. 

Probably the best thing I can do it pray for my leaders, and pray for myself, that I'll be able to discern where to draw boundaries, how God wants me to lead my life, and especially, what He wants me to say "yes" and "no" to. And pray that I'll be a good example to those who come after me, and not a stumbling block to them.

1 comment:

Hippomanic Jen said...

Hear Hear. I've been in situations where other leaders around me don't have boundaries, then when I tried to put some in place I copped the "but you're younger and should be able to do more" expectation. Very bad when one of your peers doesn't feel it necessary to have a day off.