Who do you trust… man or God?  Most of us would say “God” immediately.  But who do you trust in terms of promotion… man or God?  You see, most of us want to say, “God”, but in reality we really are putting our faith in man, and thus our worth.  If you know God, then you know that God promotes, and our worth is derived from knowing who we are in Christ.  If our faith is in man, we will be disappointed because if we are ever passed up for promotion, it is our heart that will ache wondering why we weren’t chosen.  Most of us take it personally, and if you have ever been hurt because you were passed up for promotion, then your eyes simply aren’t with God.  Furthermore, we close ourselves off from growth because we aren’t searching for those teachable moments.

Even when our eyes are on God we may still not receive the promotion that we so desperately feel that we deserve.  At that time, we need to ask ourselves why that is.  God doesn’t want to just promote someone who has a good skill set- the world does that- but someone of good character that will bring glory to His kingdom… not take credit.  Are you that person?

The first thing in this series is that we are going to examine the qualities of a godly leader.  A godly leader will be one who withstands the test of time, and will be a true beacon for both God, and for the company that they work for.  It is something that we should strive for- no matter what our place of employment or how we feel about our employer.  God wants us to work with excellence worthy of Him because if we don’t, how can we be an example to others?  God gave us our jobs.  At a very base level, they act has provision for our families.  At the highest level, they are a source of joy because we are doing the work that God has ordained for our lives- and there is no greater satisfaction then knowing that you are where you are supposed to be.  Better yet is knowing that you are making a difference!

A good leader- whether you lead in the workplace, home or church- is foremost teachable.  Being teachable is a very difficult thing to be because it involves being humble, accepting responsibility, and being open to change.

“Give [instruction] to a wise [man], and he will be yet wiser: teach a just [man], and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:9

So why is this so hard?

The World’s View And How We Got Off Track

teachableThe world teaches us that if we work hard, we will be successful.  “Working hard” means that if your desire is for promotion, success, and financial gain, there are certain standards that you must follow.  However, it should be said that if you follow the world’s standards, you will certainly fail.  If it’s not at work, it will be in another area.  We simply weren’t created for a life such as this.

The world says that in order to be successful we need to work hard.  Working hard means putting in extra hours, taking on extra projects, being noticed by your employer, and proving that you are valuable to the company.  We lull ourselves into the false belief that the extra hours, extra projects, etc are only temporary.  We are just doing it to gain that promotion.  After that, it’s easy street.  Anyone who has risen up the corporate ladder will tell you that the work load does not get lighter with promotions.  Promotions come with more responsibility, and more work.

The downside is that more work (in the natural) equates to more hours at work, which equates to less time spent with the family.  Most people work hard so that they can maintain a certain lifestyle, yet many do not have the opportunity to enjoy it fully.  Those that do reap the benefits are additionally unhappy because even though they may have all of the material possessions that one could want, they don’t have the attention of their spouse- which is the person that they want to share life with.  It’s hard to do life in a marriage when you are all alone.

The mere fact that we are working hard also means that we are striving for perfection.  We don’t want to make mistakes, and if we do end up making a mistake, we quickly either try to cover it up, blame someone else, or correct it.  If someone on our team makes a mistake, or doesn’t “pull their weight”, often we “throw them under the bus”, because we don’t want to lose our position because of someone else.  Even worse is when we try to compensate as a leader, which only leads to resentment and frustration.

Yet even though we may try to put on this invincible front of perfection, weaknesses are often exposed.  As hard as we try to cover them up, if we don’t let God in, they will eventually be exposed leading to the dreaded, “correction” to happen.

We all dread being called into the boss’ office.  We habitually see it as a bad thing because we equate it to something that we’ve done wrong.  If you are honest, when you are called into a meeting with your boss, what is the first thing on your mind… What could I have done that was wrong (followed by a detailed listing of things you’ve done and what you are going to say to deflect responsibility), or he/she is going to tell me what an awesome job I did on the last project?  Realistically, it could be either, but we focus on the negative, and when we focus on the negative, our plan of action is avoiding responsibility.  It doesn’t leave room for that “teachable” moment to occur.

Furthermore, when someone tries to correct us, our automatic response is to get defensive.  What they may be saying is true, and we could learn from their experience/wisdom.  But we miss it when we have the mindset of “how dare they criticize me”!  We get angry, and focus our rage on how unfair they are.  However, it is only to our detriment if we fail to listen to what they are saying, and often we are doomed to repeat the same mistake.  Only this time, it may cost us our job.

As a whole, we don’t like correction from anyone- whether it is our boss, pastor, leader, or spouse.  We don’t like our flaws exposed, nor do we really want to correct them- at the time.  As the person doing the correcting tries to teach us or talk to us, our immediate response is deflecting, avoiding responsibility, or rationalizing.  Usually the other person (unless they are very critical) is trying to help us.  Additionally, you don’t know that God isn’t trying to speak to us through them, either.  If they didn’t like you, or had it in for you, they could just fire you.  However, if they are bringing something to your attention and trying to help you, they only have the best interests of the company and yourself at heart.  Yet unfortunately, we close our hearts, plaster an attentive look across our faces, nod, and deflect.  We justify what happened, blame someone else (it was their fault, not ours), and assure our boss that it won’t happen again.  Then, when we leave the boss’ office, the smile comes off, and anger sets in.  How dare they criticize me!

Again, not teachable!  Worse yet, you didn’t prove yourself to be a worthy leader in any way.  You just proved that you are a worldly leader.  You also disappointed God who sees everything.

Why Was God Disappointed And How Does This Relate to Me?

God isn’t happy with a character that avoids responsibility because it doesn’t leave room for growth.  Most employers can accept the odd mistake because we know that it does happen.  It takes more character to admit that you made a mistake, and even more to correct it than it does to deflect it onto someone else.  Don’t you think that your boss knows the truth?  All you are revealing is bad character- and a characteristic that God doesn’t want to promote because there is pride involved.  Furthermore, you blamed someone else for your shortcomings.  This is usually when the half-truths present themselves.

Maybe they did deserve to share in the responsibility.  However, as a leader, you should know how to manage your team effectively so that each team member can shine.  You should be aware of your team’s strengths, and weaknesses.  Weaknesses should be compensated for (not micromanaged), and strengths should be encouraged.  People will go the extra mile for an encourager over someone who micromanages or is unreasonable.  Helping someone and being appreciative goes a long way… in all areas of life.  Also, if someone is difficult to work with, just pray over them.  Ask God to teach you how to interact with this person.  You may be surprised at how He moves.

Which leads to the question of how does this relate to me?  First of all, when we are not listening to correction, we are hardening our hearts to the possibility that we can improve.  Pride creeps in and tells us that they don’t know what they are talking about.  God can’t promote this heart.  When we don’t listen, accept responsibility, or remain open to correction, we can’t grow or improve.  Those who can accept correction are able to humble themselves to the fact that they aren’t perfect, and don’t always get things right all the time.  However, being teachable also ensures that the same mistake will not happen again because this person will take measures to ensure that it doesn’t.  Where there is a good work ethic, good character, and teachability in a person, you will see them grow, mature, and lead others well.  They are able to accept responsibility, and are mature enough to set things on the right course.

God asks that we have a teachable heart.  Scripture tells us that God corrects those He loves, and while correction isn’t easy to accept, it is how we grow as individuals.  We can remain teachable if we keep a spirit of humility about us.  Humility teaches us that we aren’t perfect, and that there is always room for improvement.  It tells us that we aren’t always right, and to accept responsibility when necessary.  A teachable spirit will shine in conflict because it has a willingness to move things to a resolution, and it seeks to understand- not be proven right.  Those that always want to be proven right are exasperating to employers because they aren’t hearing what is being said.  They show their immaturity every time when they evade responsibility and defend themselves.  They don’t show that they are a team player, but are ultimately just out for themselves which doesn’t create cohesiveness in any environment.  Also, it doesn’t garner friends when people can’t trust you.  If people know they can’t trust you, if you aren’t going to help them if needed, and they stand a chance of being blamed because of your faults, they aren’t going to work for you.  If they aren’t going to work for you, you are ultimately doomed in your position because you are ineffective.

If we take it back to that verse in Proverbs, instructing a correctable/teachable person will make them wiser.  They, in turn, will teach others, and a leader who teaches others, is very valuable indeed!

Learn why this type of leader is valuable to any organization/company in our next segment.