For millions of people across the globe, strong leadership equates to near perfection in the life of the leader. I have always believed that as well.
However, this assumption is not true. The truth about leadership has been made clear over the past few weeks by the pastors at Southern Hills/City Station in their messages.
The best leaders have a “limp”, or character defect. It is tempting to feel like we must have everything together and be perfect in order to have an impact on those around us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The story of Jacob’s life-changing encounter with God is a shocking, yet brutal story of God’s transforming power. Jacob found himself alone with God on his way to a new start in his old hometown, where he would soon come face to face with all he left behind.
Jacob found himself alone and wrestling with God. They wrestled all night until the morning.
When Jacob wrestled with God, Jacob was stubborn and gave it everything he had. Needing to demonstrate that He was greater than this mere mortal, God touched Jacob’s hip socket and caused it to separate from the hip. As he shouted out in pain, pulled back, and began walking with a limp, Jacob realized that as much as he wanted to, he could not outsmart his Heavenly Father. When he understood his own limitations, he was free to embrace the strength given to him by God and to partner with Him in confident humility.
Jacob kept moving. He may have been slower, he may not have been in his “prime” anymore, he may have felt the pain of his limp with every step, but he didn’t give up.
Before Jacob had a limp, he made hasty decisions and made them independently. A limp caused him to slow down, be more thoughtful, methodical, purposeful, and consistent.
He became a true leader.
As we become keenly aware of our shortcomings and are willing to admit them, we not only earn the respect of those around us, we empower them to do the same.
But, old habits die hard, and healing isn’t easy. It takes long looks in the mirror. It takes honest willingness to train ourselves to become the leaders God has called us to be; a leader without self-inflicted limitations.
There are also limps that are not self-inflicted. There are limps we have to live with every day. They may have happened to us in a battle we did not start. Some of these include difficult relationships, toxic environments, past wounds, and loss.
A few years ago, a young lady was seven months pregnant with her first child. At the same time, she was diagnosed with cancer. Before she knew it, she was being induced into labor so treatment could start. She was very sick for a year and would stay up at night asking God to allow her to see her child grow up. That limp taught her to cherish life, to praise God in adversity, and to trust Him. It strengthened her marriage and taught her the power of friends who will pray for us when we don’t have the faith to pray for ourselves.
She would not wish that experience on her worst enemy. However, she would not trade it either. Neither would she trade the other limps like losing her father when he was only 45 years old. Anyone can lead when everything is great. But great leaders are developed in difficult times.
Regardless of our stories, background, family history, or any “limp,” we have greatness and a purpose within.
It is sad to see so many people who let their limp disqualify them from their destiny instead of staying the path; even with the pain of the past. State prisons are full of people who chose to give up instead of forging ahead.
Today, people notice our limps. But, more importantly, they will watch how we respond to the adversity.
Jacob’s limp existed until the end of his life. But, his mission never changed. He kept worshiping, leading, and enduring until the end. People don’t remember Jacob for his limp. They remember him for his leadership.
We cannot afford to allow a limp to hold us back from the vision that God has set before us.
Lead with a limp, and God will pick up the slack, multiply our influence, and bless us in ways we never thought possible.