The school bus was to arrive any minute and my six-year grandson was still fiddling with his socks. “Matthew,” I said sternly, “You have to put your sock on right now!” With a disgruntled look on his face he responded, “You’re not the boss of me.” Ouch that hurt; that was the first time he ever spoke to me like that. (Now that he’s a teenager I realize he is not a morning person.) Even years later it makes me think; when am I the boss and when am I a leader?
When am I boss and when am I leader?
When we’re growing up it seems like everyone is bossing us around. Our schoolteachers, parents, aunts and uncles and neighbours shouting, “Get off our lawn!” Finally, one day we’re on our own and we can be the “boss of us” and we can’t wait to boss someone else. To have that powerful feeling of gratification and make another person do something we want them to do. For us!
For over thirty years I was “the boss” of either a law firm or car dealerships, and it’s not always the satisfying power trip we think it to be. By being bossy there is pushback, alienation and it brings down morale. It was all about making people do things I wanted them to do “for the company” but in the long run, it was usually something to make my life easier.
After becoming a Christian, without realizing it, something shifted in me. My focus became “the good of the other person” instead of me. Instead of demanding deadlines or my rights, I started to ask, “How can I help you with that?” The annual reviews also shifted from pointing out their weakness, to, “How can I help you become better in this area?” Over the last number of years before my retirement I would always add, “I will do whatever I can to help you succeed.”
“I will do whatever I can to help you succeed.”
Anybody can be a boss but not everyone is a leader. Jesus, the greatest leader, taught me this through his numerous examples:
- “My food, “ said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)
- “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
- “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
- “Now that I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
- “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:3
- Numerous places in the New Testament where Jesus declares that He is “doing the will of His Father.”
Jesus’ many examples are still teaching me that being a Christian leader’s motive should be to “do the will of the Father” and to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27) That means being a Christian leader is about leading with a servant heart and to help everyone become the best version of who God made him or her to be. And to bring all the glory back to God.
So I will let you decide. Are you “the boss” or a leader?