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Tell the Truth…And Live Like Jesus By R. Scott Rodin

Are you ready to lead in a selfless, sacrificial way?

This week, I explore the five surefire ways to lose your reputation as a leader…and live like Jesus. Here’s the list:

  1. Fail to live up to other’s expectations
  2. Tell the truth
  3. Don’t defend yourself
  4. Defy success
  5. Lead by waiting for God’s timing in everything

Today, let’s look at the second of these five ways.

(2) Tell the truth.

You probably know the familiar leadership question, ‘Would you rather be liked or respected?’ Here is some truth regarding our answer: we all say ‘respected’ but lead like people who want to be liked.  It is the rare leader who truly chooses respect at the price of likability.  We may sometimes make a hard decision and face pushback, but day in and day out, we mostly value the approval of the people we lead.

It seems remarkable that it is difficult to find any sense in Scripture that Jesus valued the approval of the people he loved and came to save. When thousands followed him wherever he went and hung on his every word, he did not hold his hands and quote Sally Fields, ‘You like me, you like me!’  He taught them in words that often offended them.

He undoubtedly loved them, but that love almost always produced rebuke of sin and a sharp challenge to how they lived. Try to find one passage in the gospels that indicates that Jesus was concerned with how well people thought of him.  It isn’t that he went out of his way to offend, but it seems clear that his one focus was on teaching them what was best for their bodies and their souls, even at the cost of offending.  Perhaps he loved them enough to look beyond the need to please to the opportunity to transform. He wasn’t seeking friends but disciples, and the two are considerably different.

How would we lead if our sole focus was helping your people become the most fully committed and faithful followers of Christ they could be?

What if we committed to speaking the truth that people need to hear to grow in Christ rather than saying the nice words they want to hear that only enable them to stay stuck where they are?  What if we loved them enough to risk losing our reputation of being a ‘nice person’ in favor of having peace in our hearts that we were faithful in our call as leaders?

I believe it is the preoccupation with reputation that keeps us from speaking the truth to the people we care about the most.  How ironic.  If we value the reputation of being liked and well-thought-of, we miss countless opportunities to minister to those we lead and serve truly.  You may argue that one can be both liked and speak the truth, but I would challenge that, over time, the need for approval will overtake the desire to speak truthfully.

Only by laying aside our need for a reputation as a likable person can we embrace the call to the kind of leadership that God can use to transform the people we serve and the organizations we lead.  Such a leader is free from the tyranny of reputation cultivation.

How has a leader willing to speak the truth impacted your life?


Dr. Scott Rodin has been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for twenty-five years. He has served as counsel to over 100 organizations across the country and in Canada and Great Britain, including colleges, seminaries, schools, churches, para-church ministries, and other not-for-profit organizations. Visit his blog at Kingdom Life Publishing.



What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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