Why Leaders Need Desperation

2. Desperation turns obstacles into opportunities when you think and act differently.

Mark 2:4 says, “When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher.” Imagine that happening at your house. I’m guessing you wouldn’t be too happy. Dust and debris begin to fall to the floor as a man lying on a stretcher is lowered through the hole in your roof. Sounds crazy, even bizarre. But desperation will do some pretty crazy things.

Sheer desperation drove these four men onto the roof, and through the roof. They weren’t content to wait another day. They didn’t say, “We’ll catch Jesus at the next crusade when the crowds have thinned out.” They didn’t know if there would be another day. So they scooped up their faith, radically changed their thinking and took a desperate leap forward. The willingness to think and act differently turned a natural obstacle into a supernatural opportunity.

A similar thing happened to Elizabeth Keckly in the 1800s. Born a slave in Virginia, Elizabeth knew firsthand the horrors of abuse. But she caught a glimpse of hope in her mid-twenties when she moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where she met single women who owned property and operated businesses. Needless to say, her hurt met hope and desperation came alive with a new vision. Not only did she envision freedom, she determined to own a business.

That dream grew stronger when she relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. She started making dresses and carefully developed her skills as a seamstress. Then the family she was serving hit hard times and offered Elizabeth her freedom for $1,200. The amount seemed insurmountable, but many of her customers whom she made dresses for donated the money to buy her freedom. And on November 13, 1855, Elizabeth Keckly and her son were free.

Despite the financial gift, Elizabeth worked for five years to pay back every person who gave her money. Then she pursued the second part of her dream: entrepreneurship. She moved to Washington D.C. and began working as a dressmaker. She honed her skills and built a great network of clients. Then her ultimate dream came true: She became the exclusive dress maker for Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

Elizabeth developed a close friendship with Mary Todd Lincoln over the years. She even comforted her when Mary’s son, Willie, died. Elizabeth was so successful that she eventually made more money than the three children of her former owner.

How did things change for Elizabeth Keckly? First, her hurt met hope and desperation was born with a vision for the future. But then she did what so many fail to do. She chose to think and act differently, turning natural obstacles into extraordinary opportunities.

You may feel trapped by your circumstances. Your may feel like your leadership is slipping through your hands. You see obstacles at every turn, and you feel desperate as a leader. But please hear me:

You will never feel your way into a new set of circumstances. Your desperation must shift from a feeling, to a new way of thinking and acting. Only then do obstacles become opportunities. Only then will your leadership see a brighter day.

James 2:17 says, “Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” (MSG) And verse 26 says, “The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.”

Don’t let inaction cripple you. Think differently and then act differently. That’s what desperate leaders do.