One Thing Leaders Risk ...
At times, NBA Coach Phil Jackson liked to "shake things up" to reinvigorate his players and help them play at a higher level.
In his book, Eleven Rings, Jackson recounts an incident with player Luke Walton:
One of the players I came down especially hard on was Lakers forward Luke Walton. I sometimes played mind games with him so that he would know what it felt like to be stressed out under pressure. Once I put him through a particularly frustrating series of exercises, and I could tell by his reaction that I'd pushed him too far. Afterward I sat down with him and said, "I know you're thinking about becoming a coach someday. I think that's a good idea, but coaching isn't all fun and games. Sometimes no matter how nice a guy you are, you're going to have to be an asshole. You can't be a coach if you need to be liked."
"You can't be a coach if you need to be liked." Jackson's words remind me of the confrontational nature of leadership.
God exhorts all his people to address faults head on (Matthew 18:15-20) and to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). This is essential in life. But honest, forthright communication -- even in the face of not being liked -- is absolutely critical in leadership. Paul's encounter with Peter illustrates and underscores the need to risk "rough waters" to advance the cause God has called one to lead:
Honest confrontation need not be harsh communication.
God reminds us that "the tongue of the wise brings healing" (Proverbs 12:18), and that "a soft answer turns away anger" (Proverbs 15:1). And we all understand that sometimes it is better to simply hold the tongue (Proverbs 21:23). That said, God wants us to know that "faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6).
Commenting on this verse, Bruce Waltke writes: "The 'wounds' are a metaphor for the painful and plain words that must be spoken in a true friendship in order to heal the beloved and/or to restore a broken relationship."
Leaders deal in the "painful and plain." They risk the "Like" in order to lead.
Think about it: Are you avoiding a conversation or a decision for fear of not being liked? Today, speak the "painful and plain."
"The 'wounds' are a metaphor..." from Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company. 2005, page 376.