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The Praying Mantis of Leadership

It’s not “Organizational leadership VS Relational leadership”. It’s Both.

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“More” can be the enemy of progress. I have seen the insatiable desire for “more” consume leaders and short-circuit any progress they have made. More. More can happen organically and gain the support of your friends, family, and team, or it can happen by force. When it occurs by pressure, it always divides. It will split your team and start to eliminate your support. 

Something strange happens in a leader’s heart when “more” becomes their mission. Especially when MORE isn’t happening. I’ve seen leaders start to look at WHO as the problem instead of WHAT the problem is. “Why” is rarely considered. And when a leader is more concerned with who the problem is, they will eventually find someone to blame, and that person will become the problem. This kind of thinking creates an environment where everyone is afraid to make a mistake, take a risk or even have an opinion that differs from the leader. 

The insatiable desire for “more” can also kill our witness. When people see us consumed with getting “more,” they quickly realize that we aren’t really about what we say. As a result, our message becomes distorted, and our influence begins to decline.

This doesn’t mean that MORE isn’t good. It just means that our motives must be checked when we pursue them. 

I used to be in full-time ministry. I was an executive pastor and also a worship leader. I helped grow a church from hundreds to thousands and develop leadership pipelines that involved close to a thousand volunteers and leaders. I loved it. Also, I was not too fond of parts of it. 

I’ve seen this happen and have also been a part of it. As an organization and a leader, you will always have the positions and needs necessary to keep things moving. However, it takes real people to advance the mission. People will come to you with their dreams and desires. You will do what you can to find a fit within your team. And then things get busy, and you have entirely disregarded the dreams of your team members to only focus on the organization’s needs. Your needs. Whether you like it or not, this team member has become a commodity.  

I can spot this from a mile away because, at one time, I was that team member. I had a dream to be a part of something larger than myself and help lead people to experience hope and transformation. And so I became a cog in a machine.

This is how “more” can kill us. We get so focused on our ambitions and what we want that we lose sight of what’s essential. As a result, we end up sacrificing the people we are responsible for leading and serving. This is the “praying mantis” of leadership.  A praying mantis is known for having a partner and then devouring them. We can do the same thing in leadership if we’re not careful.

The very people we develop, partner with, and claim to love, we can destroy.

The solution?

Be honest with yourself about your motives. Why do you want “more”? Is it to serve others, or is it to serve yourself? If it’s the latter, then be honest about that and make a change. Otherwise, you will continue to destroy the very people you are responsible for leading and serving.

If you are a leader, ask yourself these questions: 

-Are you more concerned with who the problem is or what the problem is?

-Are you consumed with getting “more” instead of being content with what you have?

-Has your pursuit of “more” killed your witness or influence?

Asking ourselves these hard questions can help us refocus our mission and ensure that we are leading from a place of humility and service instead of selfish ambition.

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