Leadership Paradoxes

John McKeelOver the years, I’ve accumulated a few scars. Some of them are expected. Once I received a phone call from a counselor warning me his client had made a credible threat against my life for helping his wife escape to a safe house rather than being repeatedly abused. Another time my Army training helped me protect a teen girl who was escaping her pimp, but those are expected wounds. Those are the scars you can point to with pride. But there are other scars – lasting wounds that will never fully heal. Those are the scars that come from people claiming to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Big fish in little ponds have no interest in expanding their world.
  • You are often treated like a “hireling” by people who should know the difference between your ministry being “just a job” or a divine calling.
  • Some people believe just because you are a minister, they can say anything they like about you or your family or the people you care about. You’re a safe target. You won’t strike back.
  • It doesn’t matter that you have 12 years of education, know five languages, and have 40 years of experience, your answers mean nothing if they don’t happen to agree with their opinions or translation or favorite preacher.
  • Worst of all is the gossip, but of course Christians don’t gossip. They just share prayer requests.

At times like that, I fanaticize about becoming a parking lot attendant, but I can’t give it up. There is a fire in my bones that I can’t explain. So, I weep in the middle of the night. I spend more time in prayer and I reach into my “Bad Day File.” There I’ve saved letters and cards to show me my ministry has made a difference. There I keep inspirational tidbits that remind me why I am doing what I am doing.

I’ve lost the original source for this list of “Leadership Paradoxes,” but they have been a great comfort to me over the years and I hope they will inspire you not to give up either!

Leadership Paradoxes

  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest ideas. Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
  9. People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them. Help them anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best anyway.

The value in an action lies, not in the response it will receive, but in the quality of the action itself. Doing what is right, because it is right and honors God, is abundantly worthwhile, whether or not it is understood, appreciated, or reciprocated.

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