We all want to be the “best of the best of the best.” (“GIJoe” and Agent J, “Men in Black”). Everybody wants to know how to stand out as leaders, and rightfully so. Your life is complex, and there are many areas in which you are responsible for leading “your”people. And, we are also continually faced with the challenge of making the proper choices in leading ourselves.
Adam, of Adam and Eve, Falls Short…
In the Garden of Eden, along with sorting their lives out, Adam and Eve do the one and only thing that God has asked them not to do. They have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge. Immediately questions arise- How did it come to this? Who is at fault? Who is in charge?
Adam has not had any real practice in being a leader, and here painfully reminds us of what inexperience brings. In chapter three of Genesis, we can see no clear evidence that he has give Eve clear instructions about what God told him or taught him before her arrival. He has somehow “neglected” to give her the whole counsel of God.
What makes the situation even worse is that, if you read carefully, he was probably standing near Eve while she was having her conversation with the serpent. If he is indeed standing nearby, why does he not speak up to correct Satan when he begins to distort God’s words? Why doesn’t Adam jump in to correct Eve’s misconceptions? He does not chime in, as we would expect, to say that God said not to do this one thing.
He has somehow become a follower, rather than the leader of this really tiny band of humans. We can see a little later on in Genesis that one of his sons also seems to not quite understand the rules either; but that is a discussion for another day and another post.
Adam, who has been charged with being a leader, is a follower. Eve simply hands him the fruit, he takes it and he eats it. That’s it! He does not use his greater understanding, his superior knowledge or keen wisdom and understanding of God to lead her out of this predicament speeding headlong into catastrophe. He simply joins her! As one of my friends suggested, he was probably too busy watching her “fine behind” to pay attention to the trouble!
Then, when God shows up to talk, he throws her under the proverbial bus! When God searches them out, as He does every single day, Adam says, “She did it!” and “It is Your fault because, You, God, put her here!!!”
Adam tries to divorce himself from his relationship with Eve, and ostensibly with God, in the hopes that this will somehow save him from the wrath he knows will follow. No longer are Adam and Eve working as a team, together, in unison. It is now every man and woman for himself / herself. Ok, enough Adam-bashing…
What do Real Leaders do?
- Real leaders step up to the plate, and take responsibility for everyone’s action. Every team member is accountable for what is going on in their area.
- Real leaders develop true relationships with the people they lead and follow.
- If casting a vision, explaining a plan, starting a mission, they are clear in their communication.
- They cast visions that people can understand.
- They cast visions they can clearly understand and articulate; not a long paragraph of gobbledygook that no one will ever bother to remember or read.
- They cast visions that people can get on board with and defend against in discussion, dispute or argument.
- Real leader are inclusive. Everyone is a member of the team and of the team effort. Everyone has something unique and valuable to bring to the table.
- Real leaders demonstrate the behavior they wish to see in their teammates.
- Real leaders are honest.
- Real leaders defend their teammates- their person, job and character.
- Real leaders correct team members when they are wrong, while teaching them how to improve.
- Real leaders maintain open lines of communication.
Adam fell short in a couple of these areas, but you know what? Adam is every single one of us.
When the road get tough or the task gets hard or it looks like we might lose something we hold valuable… sometimes, as much as we hate it, we buckle.
But, the important thing is not that we buckle under the weight of our responsibilities, and we will on occasion, but that we get back up, learn some lesson from the experience, and do better the next time.
Perhaps one day, we will all be a lot more like Agents J and K, all the time.
Or better still, more like Christ!
Agent J and Agent K stand in the gap protecting us against the things that go bump in the night.
Christ stands in the gap, restoring us to God and defending us against the Darkness.
Are you a leader?
What do you stand in the gap to do?
Are you the best “you” that you can be?