If you want to make a mess of things as a leader, just be like the Hulk. Every time you get angry, just fly off the handle and destroy stuff. Flip tables. Throw a car. Tear down a building like Wreck it Ralph. By now, you realize I’m being sarcastic. I hope.
When you boil it all down, leadership can be broken down into three categories. Those who curse, those who bless and curse, and those who bless. Abraham Lincoln falls into this last category. His Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, a lawyer and politician, once referred to Lincoln as the “original gorilla”. How would you respond as a leader to that kind of opposition from one of your direct reports? Would you curse or bless them? Lincoln chose to bless. As a result, a close working relationship developed and when Lincoln was finally laid to rest, Stanton was quoted as saying: “Now he belongs to the Ages!”
So how do you continue to bless when those under your leadership turn up the heat? I wish I had a simple, one-size-fits-all answer for you, but I don’t. Leadership forces you to sometimes build the plane while you’re taxiing down the runway. What works today, may not work tomorrow. Every situation is different and dynamic. What shouldn’t change is your reaction. That’s why it’s important to decide ahead of time how you are going to respond in any given situation.
In the book of Romans, you learn that you are to bless and curse not. Simple, but not easy, grasshopper. Seasoned leaders have an advantage called experience. Especially with certain individuals. You know who they are. Maybe a face or two is coming to mind. Whatever you do, decide to take the high road ahead of time.
Someone once asked General U.S Grant what he thought about one of his soldiers. Grant responded with kind glowing words. When he was done, his inquirer said: “But you know, General, that soldier can’t stand you!” Grant responded, “I’m sorry, I thought you asked me what I think of him, not what he thinks of me.” That’s a leader who blesses and curses not.
When your race is over and the results are in, may the people you led say you were a blessing to them. They may not agree with you, and they may not like you, but that shouldn’t change your attitude toward them. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what people under your leadership say, think or do. Trust me, not all of it will be complimentary. In fact, there is a time to rebuke, correct and discipline. That’s what love does, right? Love compelled Jesus to do some of these things. He turned over the tables in the temple, called Peter Satan and told him to stand behind him (not highly recommended unless your Deity), called hypocrites ‘whitewashed tombs’ and more….all in the name of love. That means as a leader, as you go about leading and blessing others, you should always have the right motives.
To examine your motives, ask yourself “Why?” Why am I a leader? Why does this person push my hot buttons? Clarify your motives. The verse I’ve kept at the front of my mind for a couple of months now is from the book of James, “You all must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19 NLT). It’s amazing what you’ll hear people say when you just listen.
So how do you lead diligently without cursing? To lead diligently means to be earnest and prompt. But if you’re like me and you don’t always have a quick answer, be honest with people. Ask them if you can have some time to think and pray about the issue at hand. In most cases, issues will take care of themselves with the passage of time. In the meantime, the grace period will give you the necessary time to process the information you’ve received and act accordingly.
Whatever you do, remember to be a blessing and not a curse to those you lead. That’s not just my idea, God thought of it first. To recap, leadership will try the best of us. Despite our best intentions, there will be those who openly oppose us. But that shouldn’t stop us from leading with diligence. To do so, listen carefully, hold your tongue, and whatever you do, don’t lose your temper like the Incredible Hulk. After all, anger is a dragster with no brakes or parachute.
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“Lead with dilligence.” Romans 12:8 “Bless those who persecute you: bless and do not curse.” Rom. 12:14