This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post on February 8, 2017.
For the past few weeks, I have been hosting live Facebook video segments called “Ask the Author” where I answer questions that people have about my latest book, Discerning God’s Purpose: A Father’s Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Some have compared my book to one by Pastor Rick Warren called The Purpose Driven life: What on Earth Am I Here For. While I am obviously flattered with the comparison, I tell people that while the concept is similar, my book is actually a book about leadership. While I do talk about my faith in the book, the central focus is how discovering my purpose made me a better leader.
We all have the capability to lead; however, the key to leadership is service. Jesus gives us a great example of this in John 13: 14-15 (ESV) when He says “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” What He is saying is that we must serve one another as He has served us. The question that always comes up is how does one lead. The real question in my mind is, do you really want to lead?
In my book, one of the leadership lessons that I highlight is that leaders must be led. Many of us think of leadership as getting people to do whatever it is we want them to do in order to achieve a goal that we want. While the art of influence is one of the keys to leadership, the real key to leadership is accomplishing goals not for our own benefit but for the benefit of others. Zig Ziglar once said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” This statement is not only true in business but in every facet of life. It is also something that everyone has the capacity to do.
Early on in life, I thought my purpose was to serve me. Everything was about me – my career, my satisfaction, my income. When my wife and I first got married, we decided to put off having children until we could establish ourselves career wise. We ended up waiting for almost 9 years before deciding to have children. By that time I had already served in several different career leadership positions, but, I like to say that I didn’t truly become a leader until I became a parent. It took two tragic events for me to realize my true purpose in life – to prepare my children for whatever assignment God has for them. The good thing is that by recognizing, understanding and living my purpose, I developed a new calling. Now, my greatest fulfillment comes not from achieving my own goals but from helping others achieve theirs.
When I began to think of others before myself, I began to achieve things that I never thought possible. I find the words of Jesus to be true when He says in Matthew 23:12 (ESV) “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” True leadership is about humbling yourself to serve others. Anyone can be a leader; however, the real question is, are you willing to do what it takes to become a true leader?