Leading From Our Hands And Our Knees

How are your hands and knees?

For so many, leadership is all about a position of authority. When most people think of leadership, they think of someone sitting in the plush corner office. They think of someone sitting on a throne. Or they think of someone who stands tall above everyone else.

Authority is an important aspect of leadership, but there is something else leaders should consider.

Image by Andrea Rose

Image by Andrea Rose

Leaders lead best when they lead from their hands and knees.

Let me explain with 3 Ways To Lead From Your Hands and Knees:

1. Leaders Learn: When babies start to move, they don’t immediately start walking and running. They start on their hands and knees. They start crawling first. Babies must learn many things before they’re ready to move more effectively. For leaders, it’s the same. Leaders must learn before they can lead effectively. Learning to lead sometimes means we have to plod along in the trenches learning the ropes of our organization, learning the culture, and acclimating to the people around us. Reading leadership books and listening to leadership podcasts are two great ways to learn. A leadership mentor can provide valuable advice for anyone interested in growing. And leadership conferences are another great way to learn. Learning opportunities for leaders happen every day through the attempts, successes, and failures of every day decisions. Taking these actions requires an open and humble mindset.

2. Leaders Practice What They Preach: Show me a leader who doesn’t get back into the trenches, and I’ll show you a leader who is destined for failure. Leaders must model the behavior and attitudes that they expect from their team members. No task should be below a leader. Sometimes a leader must get on his knees and scrub the floor or the toilet. Sometimes a leader must get on his hands and knees showing others that it’s okay to get dirty. Former President Jimmy Carter is a great example of this. He gets his hands dirty on a regular basis building homes through Habitat for Humanity. He is not just making a celebrity appearance at the job site. He picks up hammers and gets splinters alongside other volunteers.

3. Leaders Pray: Leaders must get and their hands and knees to pray for their team members and their organization. Do you know what is going on with each of your team members? Do you pray for their success? Do you pray for their mental, physical, and spiritual well being? This is the most important job of a Christian leader which is often overlooked. As leaders, we get so busy climbing the ladder and going after organizational success that we fail to remember where our strength comes from. Prayer is a way to humble ourselves while lifting up our team members.

As I think about the ultimate example of this kind of leadership, I can’t help but think of Jesus Christ. Paul spells it out well in the second chapter of his letter to the Philippians:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:1-9

Christ’s leadership was marked by humility. He modeled leading from His hands and knees. He washed feet. He served others. He prayed. And He even died for us.

Question: How could leading this way impact your leadership effectiveness? What is one thing you can do this week to lead from your hands and knees? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

This is a guest post by Jon Stolpe. Jon is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports.  Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids.  Connect with him on TwitterFacebook or his blog.

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