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There is a song that we sing about leadership; it’s a song of old. As time goes by and new generations take up their posts, we add and adapt the verses to reflect the needs of our times but the chorus has remained the same.
The verses call for vision, they call for strength, they call for fresh thinking and for resilience. They still call for wisdom and they still call for a submission to God. The verses acknowledge the victories, the hope and the verses acknowledge the battle-weary and the fatigue but the chorus has stayed the same.
The chorus reflects ‘a set apart’ aspect of leadership but maybe rather than considering leadership as one of many tasks, it over inflates the leader as a sole traveller walking an unmarked route that has space for only one at a time.
The chorus calls the old, the young, the lifers and the ‘not yet leading’ together under on resounding tune singing “LEADERSHIP IS LONELY!”
Some of us sing the chorus with gusto, some us hum a few bars…but the chorus remains the same.
We have accepted this chorus like some precious family heirloom and don’t stop to question… why? Why is that the experience of some? Why is that what we sing? And does it have to be that way?
When we sing the chorus of “leadership is lonely”, we are creating a default that is destructive beyond words to both our soul and our humanity. Let’s change the chorus.
Leadership does not have to be lonely. Loneliness is not a pre-requisite or a required state for leadership. Maybe we need to acknowledge in our singing of this chorus we have actually built walls, created some status for our role and maybe fallen to the thought we are more than we are – as if we are any better than anyone else!
Is loneliness real? Yes.
Is loneliness at times part of being human? Yes, but that is very different than some characteristic of leadership.
There is a danger when we sing this chorus that we accept some separation when our first call is to belong. Belong to Jesus, part of His church and deeply connected to the humanity around us.
Let us add a verse that acknowledges the difficulties we at times carry when we lead. Let us add a verse that accepts our own humanity and that pain, suffering and doubt seep into our world as much as any other.
Let’s not hum even a few bars but be people whose lives are interwoven with others, with our family, our friends our communities. Interwoven in such a way we are carried as much as we carry anyone else. Interwoven in such a way that we are real – with even a few – so that loneliness cannot be our default position, because the chorus has changed.
Let’s sing a new song, change a few notes, re-arrange the structure and lift our souls to the gathered humanity we are part of.
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