Written by Shawn Naylor
I find it interesting that in our society, workplaces, ministries, and life we are taught that we have to be assertive so that everything will bend to us and our vision and wishes. As an A-Type personality, I tend to agree with this! I like to be in control and push through to reach the target.
But the further I go down this path of leadership, being discipled, and discipling others, the more I realize that there is something we forget to pass on to others and absorb ourselves as leaders.
I will pose it to you in a question, and hopefully you can either say “Yes, I am” or reflect and re-adjust. Just before I pose this question, I would like to share a personal story where I did not have the 5-5 approach to leadership and how it affected my life. Sound good?
If you have ever read the sermon on the mount (if you haven’t, I STRONGLY suggest that you read it) certain parts stick to each reader more than others. For me, one part that sticks out is Matthew 5:5, which says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Okay, now let’s get to the personal story and then move to what this verse means to me.
I had recently been put into a leadership position at my local church. I was a young guy who had seen a lot, so I thought that I knew a lot. I pushed my weight because I was strong; I was assertive. I was seeing things that needed to be changed, and I thought that I would be the answer.
To my surprise, all I saw was a steady decline in relationships and progression. The leadership role was putting heavy strain on my young marriage, and at my wit’s end (Adventures in Odyssey reference), I called my best friend Thomas—now the CEO of Godzspeed communications—and told him everything that had happened.
I expected him to side with me and get all fired up, but instead, he gave me some words that challenged me and that I still use today in my 5-5 leadership approach. “Shawn,” he said, “you’ve learned something and you haven’t even realized it. You know that you can see things and that you are not afraid to say them. But remember everyone is not you and doesn’t digest information and criticism they way you do.”
His challenge was to listen to how to deal with this situation with the Lord leading instead of being assertive and imposing my will. Let me be honest with you, it did NOT end well. But I’m happy to say that the process of redemption is well on its way.
This brings me back to the 5-5 approach. After reading Matthew 5:5, I realized I had assumed the wrong interpretation of it. I thought it meant that if I was to be a leader in God’s kingdom, I needed to be weak and not assert myself. I couldn’t figure it out!
In discovering the what the word “meek” means, I discovered something interesting. The word meek does not mean “weak” as I thought. The word meek is the word they use to describe a horse that has been broken—that is usable. As a leader, are you meek? Are you broken? Are you useable? Matthew 5:5 clearly tells us that being “meek” is the key to influencing and building (…they shall inherit the earth). This is so far from the leadership that many people are taught. Yes, be a directive, assertive, decision-maker, but make sure you are useable. Are you broken? Are you meek unto the Lord’s will? Engage with the 5-5 leadership approach.
P.S. I’m still learning to apply this to my life and leadership roles.