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When Leaders Have Trouble with the Curve By Scott Rodin

If you watched the baseball playoffs and now the World Series, it’s clear that most professional baseball players have a hard time hitting a good curveball. There is a different kind of curve that challenges every leader. It is the direction we are curved toward the people we lead and the organizations we serve.

There is a Latin term for one of the ways we can be curved as leaders. It is incurvatus en se. It means to be “curved in on one’s self.” The mental picture is striking. To be inwardly curved is to live and lead in such a way that everything that happens around us gets pulled into our focus on ourselves. Leaders who are incurvates take an ownership approach to their work. They own their job, their people, and their organization’s goals and strategies. Curved-inn leaders tend to tie their identity to their job. Advancement and recognition drive them because everything they do must prop up a self-image tied to vocational success.

Owner leaders thirst for control, need to be correct, crave recognition, are intimidated by the success of their peers, and are driven to succeed. How else would a leader operate when their worldview always brings them back to themselves?

The opposite of incurvatus en se is found, I believe, in Jesus’ provocative call from Matthew 16:25, “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” The leader willing to “lose their life for Christ” is curved toward the world. This is the posture of the steward leader.

Stewards understand that everything in life and all of creation belongs solely to God. Therefore, they take on their leader role with the heart of a faithful steward. This way, they have been free to change their life’s curve. Being curved outward toward others, steward leaders give away control, empower others, deflect praise, and are driven by faithfulness. Their identity is anchored in Christ, so they are accessible in relationship to their job and the people they lead and serve. How else wouldleadersr operate when their worldview is curved out in self-giving and generosity to the world around them?

As a leader, which way are you curved? Overcoming incurvatus en se is hard. It requires repentance, surrender, and the ongoing transformation of our hearts from owner to faithful steward. If, as a leader, you are having trouble with your curve, start today through prayer and repentance to let God reshape you into the man or woman – and leader – he created you to be.


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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