Leadership is hard + 6 more secrets leaders won’t admit

Learn The Real Truth About Serving In Leadership


Leadership is hard. Really hard.
You read that right. Though there are incentives to lead and often perks that go along with influence, it doesn’t make being a leader any less challenging.

Leadership and the influence it carries has a way of isolating those who use it to serve. Many who serve in positions of influence feel the weight of responsibility, but also the loneliness that tends to come with it.

Some have said, if a position of influence is a lonely place, then it proves you have done something wrong. Maybe you’ve structured your leadership in a way that couldn’t help but push you to the front, and now you find yourself alone, carrying the burden, shouldering the load.

Frankly, there are situations in which this is true, but I believe for the majority, it is not.

The vast majority of leaders will exercise their influence in small or medium sized organizations or settings where the structure is already set up to push them into this isolation. Indeed, we find this in many small to medium sized churches where the pastor is pressed into a place of isolation because it’s simply the way things are (I’m not saying things should stay this way).

But we also see this influence issue going on with many other types of people and circumstances. By the way, if you are a Christian, then you ARE a leader by default. The reason being that Jesus has called all of us to influence and affect the lives of people around us.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Jesus has called all of us to #influence and affect the lives of people around us.#buildyourfaith” quote=”Jesus has called all of us to influence and affect the lives of people around us.” theme=”style2″]

Your life has a tremendous impact that you might not even realize, and you should use your influence for the purpose of raising up, building up, and encouraging those around you, whether family or friends. However, as the title of this article states, “leadership is hard.”

Leadership is hard for the single moms and dads who are doing their very best to lead and influence their children. It is hard for the little league coaches who have to do everything right, so they don’t upset all the people who are “on their team.” Leadership is hard for the business owners who have to choose to do things right in a world that invariably pushes you to get ahead by doing things wrong. Leadership is hard for the school teachers who do their best to display their faith in an environment of ever-increasing hostility towards religion.

And yes, leadership is hard for those of us in the ministry who must choose to be leaders of influence and integrity even if our stands make us feel isolated, weighted, or conflicted.

This post is an attempt to open up to other leaders, no matter the size of your circle of influence, and let you know you are NOT alone.

The burden you carry is common to us ALL. We all feel it…take courage in this my friend.

Let me be clear, I love being a leader, and I love being a pastor, but influence comes with hardships. They are part of the package. Now, this isn’t a complaint, though at first, it might seem to be, rather it is a simple observation. Moreover, it is something I’ve personally experienced.

So allow me to pull back the curtain and reveal some secrets that most leaders and people of influence will never want to share.

Leadership is hard + 6 more secrets leaders won’t admit


Leadership is hard.

I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but it’s the main point. In so many ways, a leader has to do things that they often feel ill-equipped to handle. Whether the situation is in ministry, social settings, or even the secular world. Godly leaders are not immune to hardship.

Scripture bears this out through the greatest leader who ever lived.

Jesus faced all sorts of problems, questions, decisions, and even death. Did he always know the right answers or the right direction? That question could be an in-depth discussion, one that I’m not going to take the time to pursue in this article. But let me offer this thought…Jesus prayed about everything.

If Jesus, the One who become God in the flesh, had to take the time to refill his leadership bucket through prayer, it should speak volumes to us.

Most leaders want to quit. (At some point)

Have you ever had a “quitting moment?” I have. In fact, I’ve had many over the years.

Most leaders will want to quit at some point. The load is just too big for them. The problems feel too immense. There are going to be those who suffer difficulties in relationships. Misunderstandings abound in leadership.

If you’re a leader who sees quitting as the best option, you’re in good company.

One time I had the opportunity to hear a great pastor say, “You can want to quit. You can dream of quitting. You can plan on quitting. But don’t quit.”

There are moments in which you need to let your mind realize that you don’t have to do what you’re doing. You really can quit anytime you want to. But after you’ve indulged that thought for a moment, you simply have to make a strong new resolve not to quit.

The truth is quitting for real won’t get you anywhere. So don’t do it. Use it as the final option. We know from scripture that all influence is positioned and ordained from God. That means your influence and position came from Him too. Don’t be so quick to give up because of something that will pass.

Leaders often don’t have the answers they need.

I believe one of the reasons leaders want to quit, is because they think they should have all the answers.

Look, you don’t have all the answers, and you never will. Exercising influence is an action of faith. You have to trust God to LEAD YOU. Leaders don’t just influence, they must BE influenced.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Leaders don’t just #influence, they must BE influenced. #buildyourfaith” quote=”Leaders don’t just influence, they must BE influenced.” theme=”style2″]

As a person of influence, whether you’re a parent, spouse, pastor, business person, or anything else, you have to allow yourself to be influenced. Certainly, the greatest influence in your life should be God.

He leads us through his word and prayer, but also through other believers. God leads you to open your mind to new ideas contained in books and articles like this one. You are also influenced by the company you keep.

All through the Bible, you find great men and women of God, seeking direction in the midst of the fog. They needed clarity and were not afraid to ask for it.

Listen…at the moment you may be up against an obstacle you don’t know how to overcome, and that’s OK. If you think about it, leadership is all about the unknown.

For example, think about explorers who are literally cutting a trail through the forest. Invariably someone is pushed to the front of the line. Everyone behind them can walk on a cleared path, but the leader is the one making the trail. By definition, leadership means you don’t always see the way ahead of you clearly. There are no waymarkers saying, “do this, go here, choose this way.” You have to get comfortable trusting God in the unknown.

Faith and trust in God are the language of leadership and influence.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Faith and trust in God are the language of leadership and #influence. #buildyourfaith” quote=”Faith and trust in God are the language of leadership and influence.” theme=”style2″]

Leadership is very lonely.

No one wants to admit a weakness. We run from showing our faults and being real, but when it comes to leadership you’ve probably already found out that loneliness is part of the deal.

I think there’s a clear reason this is so. Leadership and positions of influence require responsibility, and most people simply won’t be responsible.

Leadership is lonely because of the decisions, the weight, the responsibility, and the cost. But you have to remember, as a believer, you are NEVER really alone.

I know, I know…God is always with us. If you are feeling alone right now, and sincerely desiring to quit, then you most likely don’t want to hear this. Several years ago, I felt the same.

There was one season of my life that pressed my leadership to its limit. I didn’t think I could go on. In fact, I was looking into every possibility of getting out.
But you know what? Along came God, and what he did surprised me. He didn’t encourage me at first, but instead, he broke me. So much so that he broke open my heart. I still remember the hot tears filling my eyes and rolling down my cheeks as I broke before God.

The reason he breaks us is to open our heart. To fix your loneliness, God must be able to get inside your heart and move things around. He wants access to the damaged and messed up parts of your life in order to fix them.

I will never forget the day God worked on my heart, because not only did it restore my faith and trust in him, but it also reignited my desire to lead others. Never since have I wanted to quit because I felt alone. I know he is with me and I know he’ll be with you too.

People often don’t see the work of leadership.

Let’s face it, you can’t see a leadership burden, can you? You can’t see the weight of responsibility that you feel. Others can’t see the prayers you pray, the nights of thinking and planning you do, or the desire to help people that you always feel in your heart.

You got into leadership to help people, but often that work goes largely unseen. A leader’s work is performed in a million little ways that, in the end, add up to something significant.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A leader’s work is performed in a million little ways that add up to something significant.” quote=”A leader’s work is performed in a million little ways that add up to something significant.” theme=”style2″]

It’s hard to see your influence, until you see the effects of it.

So, it seems leaders are doomed to do work that goes unnoticed. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Practically every leader or influencer who ever lived has felt this way at one time or another.

If this speaks to you, you need to hang on to this one simple thought: What’s done in the dark is always revealed by the light.

What you’ve done is NEVER unnoticed. The Bible says, “God is NOT unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love” that you’ve shown for him. Everything you do is marked down in his book.

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

The truth is, again, leadership is hard, and the work of leadership takes time to bear fruit. People don’t see your work, but if you keep at it, they WILL see the fruit of your labor.

I used to wrestle over this when I was in my twenties. However, I’ve come to realize that my work will prove itself in time.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t hope for some appreciation because you should. You should be appreciated for the work you do because leadership is hard work.

I’ve learned to cut leaders some slack because I now understand that no one knows what they are facing.

I also know, because I’ve experienced it, that if you continue to plant good seeds, you’ll reap good fruit. Rest in the fact that God sees your work and he will openly reward you for it. For the record, the reward isn’t always what we though it might be.

God knows best how to appreciate those who labor in leadership for him. Whether as a Christian parent or as a middle school teacher who wants to influence their students with positive, faith-filled environments, God sees and will reward your work.

Influence derives from character.

I’ve never met a godly leader who tried to school me about how great his or her character is. Character doesn’t boast.

Nevertheless, if you are a leader who raises people up, builds them up, and encourages them to go forward, you possess character qualities which allow you to continue doing what you’re doing.

Influence doesn’t come from a position. A title comes from position. But titles and influence are entirely different from one another, though they don’t have to be.

If you are a leader that wants to increase your influence, you need to work on your character. One of the secrets of great leaders is that they are people of great character.

Who you are will win out over who you hope to be…it’s the law of character.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Who you are will win out over who you hope to be…it’s the law of #character.” quote=”Who you are will win out over who you hope to be…it’s the law of character.” theme=”style2″]

Let me ask you a simple question: What actions could you take to move your character forward?

Are there habits that you need to form or relationships that you need to sever? Quite possibly I’m sure.
Think about it, if influence derives from character, then instead of reading another leadership book to learn some new method of persuasion, why not begin working on the thing that matters most. Your character.

Leaders cannot depend on their personal strength.

This is the most important secret that leadership conferences and books will never tell you unless they are based on the right principles.

So often we try to do things ourselves, to fix our own problems, to right our own wrongs, or to turn things around by our own power, but you simply can’t.

The secret to lasting leadership and influence is learning to depend on the strength, power, and help of Jesus.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The secret to lasting #influence is learning to depend on the strength, power, and help of #Jesus.” quote=”The secret to lasting leadership and influence is learning to depend on the strength, power, and help of Jesus.” theme=”style2″]

Secular leaders will shun this idea.

Frankly, you CAN lead by your personal power for a season; no one ever said you couldn’t. Eventually, though, you’ll run out of steam when you lead through only your personal power or ability.

All power is given. Contrary to what we might think or believe that we see, power is never grabbed, taken, or robbed. Power is ONLY given. The source of all power is God. He is the center of everything. So this means godly leaders must rely on the genuine source of power if they are to succeed (the definition of success is an entirely different subject).

Your dependence on God is a clear sign of the strength of your relationship with God.

Let me ask you another question: How is your relationship with God doing?

What actions could you take to move your relationship with God to a new level? Everything about godly leadership stems from this one thing.

I encourage you to ease your stress by giving it away to the one who was meant to carry it in the first place.

I sincerely hope you’ve heard my heart in this post. You are a great leader. Don’t allow the wrong thinking, discouragement, and weight to drag you down.

We need you.

Faith Building Challenge

I would love to have the opportunity to help you build your faith. It’s possible to grow in faith, and if you do, your influence will grow with it. Won’t you take the five day Faith Building Challenge? It is free, and I believe taking a few simple strategic steps will help you start building your faith like never before. I hope you will.

Faith Building Challenge

How to be a strong leader by putting others first

The power of celebration

Celebrating wins

When most people think about leadership, one of the first things that comes to mind is competition.

The feeling of being better than everyone else can be addicting. In fact, you’ve probably been the victim of misdirected competition. In and of itself, competition is not a bad thing. It helps you to overcome obstacles and pushes you forward. Competitive people usually have a slight edge over those who are not very competitive.

My argument is not that competition is wrong. Competition is easily misdirected and has the tendency to hurt people when used incorrectly. So a leader, one who really has the needs of other people in mind, should use caution when the competitive spirit leaps upon them.

You’ve seen people, and leaders, who couldn’t stand to lose at anything. Every conversation either turns into an argument or a brag session about their accomplishments. Most of us have seen leaders who, inadvertently, sabotage other organizations or even those underneath their own leadership because they have such a strong desire to compete and win. Many of these leaders may not even realize that they are undermining their own efforts to lead people, every single time they launch out into competition.

So…if competition can be so volatile to a leader’s leadership, what is the cure? And for those who may be afraid that they are too competitive, how should they react?

If you are a leader who really wants to lead with kindness and put others first, I think the answer to an overly competitive spirit is very simple:

Celebrate someone else’s win.

Certainly, it isn’t possible to celebrate every win of every person who comes under your leadership. Actually, you probably won’t know about every win that the people you lead experience; but that’s not the point. The point is, when you hear that someone experienced a great win in their life or work…even in their personal life and family, you as the leader need to find a way to celebrate their win.

Don’t fall into the trap of automatically turning on your competitive spirit. Don’t allow yourself to think, “I could’ve done that a long time ago, and probably done it better.” Don’t allow yourself to immediately begin comparing yourself with others.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Kind leaders genuinely place the wins of people on a pedestal and celebrate with them and for them” quote=”Kind leaders genuinely place the wins of people on a pedestal and celebrate with them and for them”]

Why do kind leaders do this? For one, they care genuinely about other people more than they care about themselves. But kind leaders also recognize that whatever seeds they plant will eventually grow in their own lives too. They know that when they celebrate others, they won’t have to celebrate their own wins because other people will do that for them too.

The competitive spirit usually seeks to gain glory and show itself off. It wants other people to view how great it is; but leadership isn’t about how great you are, it’s about how great you can make other people. Influence happens when you make other people great. We are immediately drawn to those who put us first.

Let me just say that this should never be used as a tool to manipulate people’s feelings. In fact, you cannot celebrate someone’s win with the wrong motives. Your motives will always shine through. Leadership by its very nature puts the leader in a spotlight that exposes motives and plans. So be careful and check your heart as you celebrate someone’s win with them and for them.

Celebrating someone’s win is a powerful way to solidify your leadership in their life:

It lets people know that you care about them.

When you put the wins other people make, out front, it let’s them know that they are valued. They understand that you care about them enough to show off their success. Leading with kindness makes a much greater impact on people than leading from the leverage point of fear or power. People don’t like leaders who lead out of fear and power. When they have the chance to stop following them, they will. But when you lead out of kindness and put other people’s wins center stage, they know that you didn’t have to do it. You chose to do it.

It motivates them to win again.

Celebrating someone’s win is a strong motivator to push forward, work harder, get up from a fall, and win again. We all crave acceptance and favor. I believe God made us this way. When you as a leader celebrate with someone, they get a sense that you value what they accomplished and they will want to win again and again.

It builds a relational bridge.

If you want to build relationships with people as their leader, there isn’t a much more powerful way to do that than genuinely celebrating the things that they do right. When you praise someone’s work, they will want to know you better. When you mention their name and connect it with accomplishment, they will seek out your friendship. You as a leader gain the opportunity to pour into a person’s life when you open the door to their heart through celebrating their wins.

We’ve all found ourselves on the flip side of this at one time or another. Maybe you put your heart into coming up with a great idea, only to have someone else (the leader) take your idea and claim it as their own, giving you no credit at all. Now, you probably aren’t working for the credit; but the credit is still nice to have…right?

Let me ask you a question…when a leader doesn’t seem to recognize your hard work or care about what you’ve accomplished for his or her organization, how does that make you feel? Not. Good.

The statement has been made, and I believe it, that people don’t quit organizations. People quit people. People quit leaders who compete against their work and seek to undermine their gifting. If you are a leader, you need to recognize that you are stifling the abilities of those you lead every time you fall into the competitive spirit trap.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Influence happens when you make other people great.” quote=”Influence happens when you make other people great.”]

Here are just a few ways to celebrate someone else’s win:

  • Congratulate them personally.


  • Speak well of their accomplishment publicly


  • Talk good about them “behind their back”.

Obviously, the most important aspect of celebrating someone’s win is the simple recognition you give. Always choose to celebrate. Celebrating wins will make a huge difference in your level of influence with others and in the life of the one you build up by doing it.

Why your influence is lagging and how to increase it by 4x

Part 1 in a blog series about leading with kindness

the power of kindness No. 1

Kindness is powerful.

When is the last time someone was kind to you?

I don’t mean just saying, “hello”, or giving a smile in passing. When is the last time someone was truly kind to you on purpose?

This is an important question, one that deserves a real answer.

Why? Because kindness is powerful. It has the ability to do something in a person’s heart that nothing else can really do.

Kindness overcomes difficulties in relationships. It establishes something about an individual’s character; and it helps make you into a leader that influences others.

With this being said, there’s something else you need to know:

There is a difference between passive kindness and active kindness.

Should a person be passively kind? Sure.

Passive kindness is that quality your teachers, parents, Sunday school teacher, and grandmother tried to instill in you. It is the automatic response you give when a person is kind to you.

If someone says, “hello”, the passively kind thing to do is say it back to them. When a person speaks a kind word, or helps you with a project, or gives you a gift…you learned as a child that the proper response is to say, “thank you”.

All of these responses are good and right. Passive kindness is a great quality to possess.

Active kindness quote

But here’s the problem with passive kindness:

Passive kindness is simply a response to the kindness of others.

What this implies is powerful, because it means passive kindness may not show itself unless someone is kind to you first.

But there is another way to behave. There is another action you can purpose to take; and it’s called active kindness.

Active kindness is a leadership quality that can further your influence in others for their benefit. It will make you a trusted leader who has the ability to help others, establish solid relationships, and ultimately be happier with yourself.

The reason active kindness is so powerful is because it’s a choice.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The reason active kindness is so powerful is because it’s a choice. #Leadership #kindness ” quote=”The reason active kindness is so powerful is because it’s a choice. #Leadership #kindness ” theme=”style3″]

It is you making the decision to be kind to others whether they are kind to you or not.

The power of active kindness inspires others to trust you and look to you for help because they see you making a choice to reach out to them. This choice isn’t something you have to do, rather, it is what you want to do.

People naturally gravitate towards those who show them kindness, especially when that kindness isn’t looking for a reward or payback of any sort.

Kindness that’s active will make you a better leader; and it will help you help others for their benefit.

So, if you have a desire to serve others and want to become a trusted leader, active kindness is the quality you need to develop.

Kindness is the real currency

Here’s why other leaders fail, and why you don’t have to

The simple reason is that they leave out kindness.

You don’t have to make the same mistakes that many other leaders make when they strive for power and influence through cruelty or dictatorship. Those things will never work; certainly, not long-term.

People want a leader who has his or her followers’ best interests at heart. They won’t follow a person long-term, who they perceive is in it for personal gain.

That’s why I’m writing this post.

I want to help leaders realize that kindness is the real currency of influence.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I want to help leaders realize that kindness is the real currency of influence. #Influence” quote=”I want to help leaders realize that kindness is the real currency of influence. #Influence” theme=”style3″]

And to help you understand that leadership is more about others than it is about yourself. My passion is to help you see that leading for the benefit of others, not for your own advancement, is the best path to real God-given leadership and influence.

Now, before I give you the secret of how to 4x your leadership and influence let me take a moment to explain one other valuable concept.

Everyone is a leader.

From the teacher at a rural school in farming country, to the parent who struggles to get by, to the pastor in a small church who wants to make an impact on others, to the person simply trying to be a good neighbor and friend.

Leadership is really just about influencing for the benefit of others…helping them go forward in life.

Every person has the God-given ability to influence someone. Even you. You can influence your children, friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. You have the all the resources you need to push other people forward in life.

When you do, something magical happens…they want to follow you. Why? Because people are very interested in, and become very invested in, a person who cares about them.

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Practicing kindness

How to 4x your influence by being K.I.N.D.(kindness)

There are only four things you really need to do if you want to increase your influence and become the leader you desire to be.

We will focus on an acronym I developed using the word K.I.N.D.

Each letter stands for an action you need to take if you want to be a leader who increases his or her influence. All of these actions put the focus on others, and help you lead from the standpoint of helping other people go forward in life.

So, here they are…

The letter “K”, stand for:

Keep others first.

If you want to transform your leadership and multiply it, the first lesson to remember is that leading people is about them, not about you.

Many people get hung up on titles and position, when they think about effective leadership; but those things are from the past. Power, titles, and position won’t work in today’s leadership economy.

Instead, kindness is the real currency.

The letter “I”, stands for:

Initiate action.

To lead people, you have to take action. No one can claim to lead people if they aren’t willing to take action.

Taking action that ultimately benefits those following you will gain their trust and multiply your influence in their life.

If you hope to increase your leadership, then you better take action quick.

The letter “N”, stands for:

Never pass judgment.

This is a hard statement, because one of the easiest things to do is judge others based on a skewed standard.

You don’t really know why someone made a particular decision until you start getting to know them. Finding a place in someone’s heart will help you better understand what makes them tick; and it will give you the opportunity to invest in their life.

Finally, the letter “D”, stands for:

Desire for others what you would want for yourself.

Why would a leader practice a standard any less than this? I’m really not sure why they would. Because the truth is, if you want to influence other people, you have to put them first. They have to know deep inside that you really do care about them; that you want something great for their life.

Practicing active kindness makes leadership ability and influence multiply.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Practicing active kindness makes leadership ability and influence multiply. #Leadership” quote=”Practicing active kindness makes leadership ability and influence multiply. #Leadership” theme=”style3″]

Every day you have the choice to passively react or actively lead. Which are you going to choose?

It has been said that, “you need to lead with your strengths”. This is similar to putting your best foot forward; and I can’t think of a better leadership “foot” to put forward than kindness.