The Meaning of True Strength

23 Feb
Briones Hiking Crew, Lafayette Ridge: Front View

(Photo credit: shannonrosa)

A young boy and his family were hiking through the woods one day.  As they rounded a bend in the trail, they discovered their path was blocked by a fallen branch.

Wanting to impress his family, and especially his father, the young boy declared, “I’ve got this!”  He ran ahead, rolled up his sleeves, and prepared to heave the limb out of the way.

But the limb was heavier than he thought.  He huffed… he heaved… all to no avail.

His father asked, “Have you given it all you’ve got?”

The boy renewed his efforts, not wanting to let his father down.  He got a better grip… a wider stance.  He strained until he was red in the face… and he failed.  He sank in shame and embarrassment.

The father asked one more time, “Have you given it all you’ve got?”

“YEESSS! Can’t you see that?” the boy screamed in rage and anger, with tears streaming down his face…

Have you ever been there?  Wanting desperately to shine… to prove yourself in front of others, and yet failing? It’s a leader’s worst nightmare.

But it can also be a leader’s greatest opportunity!

Work With Excellence

As a Christian leader, you may encounter the additional “pressure” of performing with excellence.

“Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Eph 6:7 NLT)

In context, the Apostle Paul is talking to slaves.  But the crux of the issue is giving it all you’ve got, not working just when we have to in order to impress.  When we work for other people, we get more selective:

  • We may work only when we’ll get noticed
  • We may only do things that will make us “look good.”
  • Our goal is to impress, not necessarily to get the job done

But when we work for the Lord, there is never a time God doesn’t notice.  And our attempts to look good will end up looking like filthy rags next to God.  In short, we can’t fake it when we work for The Lord, and we don’t want to let him down.

So it seems we’re faced with some difficult choices:

  1. We can exert ourselves unto exhaustion and frustration (never mind if the work gets done… we tried after all!)
  2. We can only do thing we KNOW we can do (that will impress God!)
  3. Or we can learn to live with that feeling of letting God down

If that doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm, nothing will!

What if there’s a fourth option?  I think there is, but it’s going to require a huge gut check!

The Gut Check

As leaders, we have to ask ourselves which of these is more important:

  • Looking good, OR
  • Impressing people, OR
  • Getting the job done

If we’re working for the Lord, there’s really only one option: getting the job done.  You look just fine to Jesus, and I doubt he’ll be impressed by us when he can see right through us.

And here comes the gut check: Are you OK with not getting all the credit?

Because many times that’s the trade off for actually getting things done, especially in leadership roles.  President Truman said it well:

“It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”

So, if we’re OK with putting our glory in the back seat in order to get God’s work done, we can move on to the next phase:

Delivering Excellence

In an earlier post, we talked about spending time developing our strengths… not our weaknesses.  Let’s assume that you buy that argument and have developed your strengths.

Let’s also assume that you’ve done the gut check and are more interested in getting the job done than trying to impress God.

Now it’s time to pair with your weakness(es).

Remember all that time you spent developing your strengths?  Look for others who have developed their strengths as well… but their  strengths are your weaknesses!

What happens is you get away from one person who can perform at a “C” level, and you form a team that can now perform at an “A+” level!  Not only will that job get done, it will get done with excellence!

I know it’s not that simple: great players don’t necessarily make great teams.  But stick with me in the upcoming Saturday posts… there’s more to come!

Ultimately, as a Christian, we want the credit to go to God… not us.  And I can’t think of a better way to give God credit than bringing people together to work in a common cause, and delivering results with excellence and enthusiasm!

The boy’s father approached his frustrated son and kneeled down at eye level.  But rather than words that accepted this failure at clearing their path, he encouraged his son to try one more time.  “Son… I want you to try one more time.  But this time, I want you to pull out all the stops… don’t hold anything back, and don’t stop until the path is cleared.”

Exasperated, the boy stood.  Perhaps a better grip and an even wider stance would do the trick.  He closed his eyes and mustered all his strength.

And he was amazed as the heavy branch went sailing out of the way with ease.

As he opened his eyes, he realized that his Father had lined up his Mom and Sisters on the fallen branch to help move the heavy load.  What was impossible just a moment before was made possible as they all worked together, each contributing what strength they had to the task.

The Father knelt down once again to eye level with his son and said, “Now you know what it means to give it all you’ve got… you’ve got us!”

That was the day the boy learned the meaning of true strength.

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Leadership


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