Scattered on the slopes of the highest mountain on planet earth there are dead bodies. They serve as a gruesome reminder of the hazards of climbing Mount Everest. Of the 189 people who have died, 120 of them still lie there. It is too risky to bring the bodies back down. The natural peril of the “death zone” (the area between the last base camp at 26,000 feet and the peak) is too much to overcome. Not every leader makes it to the top. But I’m praying that as you lead today you will feel the Holy Spirit’s push upward, onward, and forward. May He be the oxygen in your climbing tank and His presence, power, and purposes be sufficient to assist you on your climb to security and identity.
No leadership makeover is successful unless that leader can find personal security within herself or himself (through Christ) without depending on others. Wholeness is the main by-product of Christ-based identity. Furthermore, leadership success is irrevocably connected to wholeness.
For leaders, achievement is both a blessing and a curse. It is first a blessing because we have been mandated to bear fruit and to be effective. Secondly, it can be a curse. When we are insecure our victories, even the shallowest ones, feel substantial because of our unhealthy drive to achieve. Today, we are applauded for what we do, not what we are becoming. So we seek the next big gig and the next dramatic moment. Cursed to swing to the next vine of achievement, we make our way through the jungle, forgetting who we are and becoming unable to rest.
All leaders, especially successful ones, are tempted to assume that they are the sum of what they can produce. In the end, insecurity always lowers our expectations and changes our estimation of what we really consider as success. We count numbers, trophies, and performances, at the expense of transformed people. People become tools to our success when they are supposed to be the targets of our investment. We begin to celebrate the wrong things. We settle for flash without substance. The most difficult journeys in leadership often require us to peer deep inside of ourselves, to make adjustments, and face those inner realities that influence the way we lead.