Posted in Leadership

The Pride In Our Busyness

What if busyness is caused by our pride?

The Killer P’s are a part of pastor and author Kevin DeYoung’s reason behind the state of busyness most of us live in. Reading his book Crazy Busy would be worth your money and time (it’s cheap and “mercifully short”).

DeYoung first points out there are no “quick fixes” to busyness. Especially as Christians, because “We ought to know better [than quick solutions] because we understand that deep down that the problem is not just with our schedules or with the world’s complexity—something is not right with us.”

And in the “Killer P’s” chapter of his book, he argues that typically the “thing not right” with us is a manifestation of pride. He says “Our understanding of busyness must start with one sin that begets so many of our others sins, pride.”

In a brief two pages, DeYoung names twelve manifestations of pride related to busyness. But to even be briefer than he, let me do a Dodridge-download on just four of “the P’s” that tend to manifest in my life (and perhaps yours).

4 Killer P’s

Pats on the back. This is living for praise and DeYoung says it’s often motivated by a “desire for glory.” Now, must of us would not say we’re doing things to pursue glory. But can you hear yourself saying this sentence DeYoung wrote, “If I take on this extra assignment, I’ll be a hero to everyone in the office.”?

But we often look for pats on the back at work, which often means our glory-seeking has a deficit effect at home. If we’re glory-hogs at work, well, that will mean we’re too busy to be our best in other places.

Pity. If we let everyone know how busy we are, well, they’ll feel sorry for us…they’ll take pity on us. If our busyness generates sympathy and pity, then that means we’re getting attention. Because of the sinfulness of pride, for some reason someone saying to you, “You work so hard, I bet it’s really hard to find time for yourself” seems to create a buzz for us. Rather, it should be a shock effect to say “Get out of that rhythm!”

Power. DeYoung’s associated statement for power is, “I need to stay busy because I need to stay in control.” The lie we tell ourselves is that in order to fully control something and get the desired results, we have to control every part of it. And to do that, well, we keep everything under our watchful (busy) eye. This leads to becoming an indispensable person (I’ve written on the dangers of that before).

Position. When I read DeYoung’s associated statement I knew he had named one of my Killer P’s. It’sI do too much because that’s what people like me are supposed to do.” Can you hear yourself saying that?

This is where our intentions can sound good, even God-glorifying. But ultimately it’s a prideful way of recognizing our own contribution to something. You may be the responsible one in your workplace. You’re the person who goes the extra mile. You’re the execution ninja! But each of those good qualities have a shadow side, and these good qualities become manifestations of pride quickly. And once you start these prideful expressions, it further perpetuates the feeling of you needing to keep up the standard of busyness.

Busyness can become an identity. It may be how you’re known. We hear people say to us, “Oh, you’re always so busy” and we feel both a sense of pride and sense wanting anything other than busyness for ourselves.

Be brave enough to name the “killer P’s” you’re prone to.  Name it (them) and then ask for help with your pride. Ask God to speak to you his version of what busy looks like. Ask a friend to call you out when they see you manifesting the killer P’s.

Busyness doesn’t have to be wrong or sinful, but if pride is the source of that busyness, well…

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Title-less Leadership

If you didn’t have a job title associated with your name, what changes?

What changes if there’s no longer a title to give you purpose? If there’s no title to give you authority? If there’s no title to give you prestige…what becomes of you?

For several years, the sign pictured in this blog has been outside my office door. And as I write this, that title will soon not be mine. (If you need some context, you can read my last post, The Irrational Decision In (my) Ministry Leadership). So, I can’t yet fully answer the questions I posed above, and therefore this is an aspirational post.

Yet, I felt like while I will be the one living title-less, it could be helpful for you to at least consider title-less living, even if theoretically.

Title-less Influence

A review of history often tell stories of people who did great things and led effectively before they ever assumed positional leadership. They had influence before they had the title, and usually that leadership contribution got them a title. Quality leadership typically indicates a positional title is coming.

So here are a few reminders for me, and perhaps you…

Lead with or without your title. Don’t make them put a sign outside your door before you begin to lead effectively. There’s nothing magical about a title or nameplate, and in some cases, it can actually be a hindrance.

Don’t equate title with value. I believe with all my heart that God loves (me) you before you did anything. There’s no earning, and God is certainly not waiting on you to get a title to show His love.

Surround yourself with people who love you (and don’t really care about your title). For every person you direct in your titled job, make sure you also have someone present in your life who you don’t direct. You need people in your life who don’t need your titled-self and what comes with that title. When you lead, you’re often needed by others. And that’s great. But it’s also taxing. You need people who when they see you, don’t come with a need or agenda, but come to you because they like you (with or without your leadership acumen).

(Life hack: if you try to use your titled-self amongst this group of people, well, hypothetically, you might be told, “Brian, I don’t need an executive pastor in our kitchen.”)

Maintain a title that’s a match. Sometimes our ego wants a title that reflects our accomplishments and tenure. We want it to match the hard work we’ve done. But to do this, the job often has to change. To have the more impressive title, you have to modify your role. And now you have a great title, but no longer a role that matches your desire or skills. You become susceptible to the “Peter Principle.”

God called you to lead. He gave you skills to do that well. And with or without a title, you’re valuable to God, you’re valuable to others, and your contribution is needed, even if it’s title-less contribution.

We know God’s Kingdom work is not only accomplished through titled-people (and pretty often He operates outside of that), and we need to work toward what He has for us whether we wield a title or not.

If you have a title, great, I bet you earned it. But could you still find value and purpose without it? It’s a road I’m walking, and might be good for all leaders to consider the theoretical title-less test.

 

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Shadow Working: Who’s Getting the Credit?

Some of our successes will be in the shadows of others. And figuring out how to respond well to “shadow working” is key to effective leadership.

Just this past Sunday, a professional golfer named Brooks Koepka won one of the four biggest golf tournaments of the year, the PGA Championship.  It’s his second Major win this year and it earned him $2 million in prize money. Yet, most of the attention after the golf tournament was given to another. Koepka’s win was in the shadow of another golfer he just beat at golf, yep, Tiger Woods.

Yes, Koepka did get to hold up the trophy and he got to bank some $2 million dollars. But what must it have felt like to be the best golfer on the course, and every time you hit a ball, spectators were leaving the hole you were playing to try to make their way to get a glimpse of another?

On our best days, we’ll embrace Jesus’ teaching of “the last shall be first,” and maybe believe what my friend Todd Adkins says, that “A big part of leadership is recognizing that your fruit often grows on other people’s trees.” Those are both true. But some days shadow working is going to sting. Those days when like Koepka, you were the best performer, problems-solver, minister, or contributor, and yet, someone else gets the fanfare?

Shadow working is going to happen. It’s going to happen despite your contribution being the best contribution given. Or despite your efforts being the reason the project happened. Or despite the idea being yours. Or despite the music in the worship gathering being impactful because of the work and prayers you put into it; there will be others who, at times, will get the appreciation, limelight and accolades.

God created you to be exactly who He wanted you to be. And when we’re working in God’s given design, the work and opportunity He’s given should be all you need. But there are days when the person with the bigger personality, the bigger platform (literally or figuratively), or has regaled history will cast a shadow on your work and it won’t feel great.

So, here are some ways to manage the feelings of shadow working—

  • Assume the best…that the person who has the spotlight isn’t trying to take it away from you, it’s just some people naturally attract attention.
  • Manage your expectations…some work is meant to be shadow work. And that kind of work will create limited appreciation. So, don’t expect a parade when your role, at best, will get you a pat on the back.
  • Understand who God called you to be…and if God’s design means you’re in the shadows of others, well, relish that you are getting to do exactly what God has given you to do.
  • Cast light on others…don’t be a bitter shadow worker. Celebrate the work, and even celebrate whatever contribution the other worker is getting. The golfer Koepka understood this. In his post-round interviews Koepka celebrated Tiger Woods and acknowledged why the fans would leave him to flock to Tiger and what he was doing on the course. It’s easier to allow others to have the limelight when your value is determined by a God that loves you with our without your contributions.

I’ve received public credit for work that was done by others. And I’ve also watched others get credit for work I had done. And there’s been times I believe my contribution was the most valuable contribution, but because another person had performance history, an established platform, or just a winsome personality, they got the attention. And on my best days, I’m over it quickly. On others, well, I’ve needed to manage around it. So, if you’re a shadow worker, manage around any entitlement feelings; and most of all, my hope is your value is determined by our loving God.

 

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