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Why Leaders Fail Their Greatest Leadership Moment

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Leaders, what is our greatest leadership opportunity?

How we answer that question is life-shaping.

My greatest leadership opportunity doesn’t present itself when I train pastors or when I preach to auditoriums filled with thousands of people.

My greatest leadership opportunity happens in the ‘everydayness’ of being a husband and father.

As you and I know, preaching for 45 minutes on a stage is easy compared to actually interacting in the messiness of real life.

It’s my prayer that my marriage would be a testimony to God’s grace and the ability He’s given to me to be a servant-leader. If I can’t lead and serve my wife and children, how can I authentically lead anyone else?

If you aren’t married, apply the principles your life.

So, leaders, here are five reasons I think that we, as leaders, fail at our greatest leadership opportunity.

1. Living on the Surface.

Our culture trains us to live on the surface. We’re like icebergs—only 10 percent of an iceberg is actually seen. When we’re “Surface-Livers” we never really let Jesus, or people, into the deep places of our hearts because we want to keep up the mirage that we’re OK. Often, as leaders, we feel like we can’t let people ‘really know us,’ even our spouses.

The cure for surface-living is to experience Jesus at a deep level. When we realize that He completely knows us and completely loves us, then we can go below the surface with Him, our spouses, our children and the people we serve.

2. Storing up Unforgiveness.

Over the years of mistreating each other, we deposit into our spiritual bank account the number of times we’ve been wounded by our spouses. Those wounds turn into sores that never heal.

People with spiritual sores are hurt. And hurt people hurt people.

If we keep an “eye for an eye” mentality, we end up blind. How quick are we to forgive our spouses? Our ability to forgive quickly is directly connected to our understanding that Jesus quickly forever-forgives us. How can we lead people into healthy relationships if our most important relationship is riddled with the poison called unforgiveness?

3. Idolizing the Kids.

I’ve been married nearly 21 years, and from experience, I know it’s easier to not deal with marital problems than to work through them. So instead of doing the emotional hard work of nurturing our marriages, we begin to idolize the kids, especially when they’re young. As a result, when the kids leave the house, they are handicapped by feelings of entitlement. And worse, you realize that you and your spouse don’t even know each other because you spent so much time idolizing the kids instead of working on your marriage.

My wife and I have come to realize the greatest gift we can give our kids is a Christ-soaked, Christ-exalting, conflict-resolving marriage. We work hard through the grace Jesus provides to have a beautiful marriage.

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Derwin L. Gray is the founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church (www.tc521.org), a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community in Indian Land, South Carolina, just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Transformation Church was recognized as one of the 15 fastest growing churches in America for 2010 by Outreach Magazine. Gray is the author of "Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future" and is a highly sought-after communicator. Connect with Derwin on twitter @Derwinlgray.