We need the encouragement, but we also need to remember that it is not about us. We don’t need to worry about how good our sermons are or how well the people liked our Sunday School lesson. The risk is that we lose our focus on God and begin focusing on ourselves. So how do you balance the very real human need for encouragement with the risk of becoming self-absorbed?
I recently read a very good book by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima titled Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership (Baker Books, 1997). In it, the authors described the dark tendencies of five different types of leaders. Very briefly, they are
- The Compulsive Leader - one who may be compulsively self-righteous and legalistic
- The Narcissistic Leader – one who may always feeds his own need for adulation
- The Paranoid Leader - one who may be in a constant state of denial or paranoia
- The Codependent Leader - one who may try too hard to keep everyone happy
- The Passive-Aggressive Leader – one who may have difficulty with uncontrolled outbursts
After taking the questionnaire in the book, I discovered that I am the Narcissistic Leader, so I especially have to be concerned about not taking undue credit or doing things whose only purpose is to feed my ego. Of course the point of the book is that we need to understand our tendencies and keep a close eye on those areas where we tend towards the dark side. For me, that means not actively searching for the adulation, but rather humbly serving where God calls me to serve. It also means not making such a big deal whenever God does give me the grace of a word of encouragement… rather, to realize from where all good and perfect gifts come…. Soli Deo Gloria!