Home Pastors Articles for Pastors Why Great Leadership Comes with a Price

Why Great Leadership Comes with a Price

Great by Choice

One of my favorite writers on leadership and organizational behavior is Jim Collins. He has authored two blockbuster books on organizational greatness: Built to Last and Good to Great. His latest tome, Great by Choice, will undoubtedly engender similar praise. In his latest book, Collins unleashes his top-flight research team to discover why some companies thrive in chaos and uncertainty while most do not.

One of the principles gleaned from the research was that great leaders, what he calls “10xers,” have clearly discernible leadership traits. And one of the great differentiating traits is that of sacrificial leadership. One of the most compelling quotes from the book is powerful and succinct: “[10xers are] ambitious, to be sure, but for a purpose beyond themselves, be it building a great company, changing the world, or achieving some great object that’s ultimately not about them.”

Looking in the Mirror

Collins for sure does not pretend to write from a Christian worldview. Nor does his research point to the One who gave the ultimate sacrifice. But his words are nevertheless compelling. They forced me to look in the mirror, to check my motives, and to ask myself a number of questions.

Do I lead my organization sacrificially? Am I more concerned about the good of the organization than my own needs? Would I sacrifice my paycheck and financial security if it were best for the organization? Am I driven to do something greater than meet my needs? Am I driven, no matter the cost to me personally, to leading an organization to greatness?

These are the types of questions and struggles I have daily as a leader of a large organization. These are types of questions I should have asked myself more when I was a pastor. And these are types of questions I should continue to ask myself today as a husband, a father, and a grandfather.

Great leaders are sacrificial leaders.

Even if the sacrifice we are compelled to make is ourselves.  

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Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.