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Become a More Effective Leader by Emptying Yourself

June 15, 2012

Dr. Greg Waddell

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Isn’t following Jesus what Christians do in church on Sundays? Let’s be reasonable; the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus;” and then he went on to explain that this approach to life took Jesus to the Cross (Philippians 2:1-7). Nobody can expect you to follow this way of life in the rough and tumble of the business world, right? Wrong.

When the New Testament was written, Christians had not yet learned to separate following Jesus from their daily lives. They were not thinking of organized religion, sacred real estate, or Sunday mornings 10:00 to 11:30. They were thinking about life wherever it happened, even life in the marketplace.

In the world of business, some “minds” are contrary to the mind of Christ. But this is not inherent in doing good business. In a world where greed often reigns, the example of Jesus offers an alternative way to do business.

How can this be done? How can a person take on the attitude of Jesus in the workplace? What does this mean exactly? How does his experience translate into our experience? Let’s look at what Paul says and see if it fits.

Though he was in the form of God,
[Christ] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8, ESV).

Paul describes an attitude (a mind) that is radically different from what we often see in the business world. The decision to follow Christ’s attitude is not a new technique or a spiritual metaphor. It’s about living at odds with the more common attitude of scratching and clawing to the top at the expense of others.

Following Jesus means more than going through a few religious routines on Sunday. It’s a way of life that affects every relationship, every role, and every responsibility we have. Taking on the attitude of Christ involves three steps:

  1. Stop striving to be somebody. Realize that, in Christ, you already are somebody. You are a child of God, redeemed, forgiven, and empowered. Whatever you do in your efforts to lead others, don’t do it to become someone, do it because you are someone.
  2. Remove yourself from the center of your universe. In other words, stop trying to be God; let Him take that place. Give up your rights to status, recognition, privilege, and position. If these come to you, receive them as gifts, not as payment.
  3. Take deliberate action to serve others. Taking on the mind of Christ is not about spiritual retreat; it’s about doing things to help others be successful.

So, the next time you feel angry because someone didn’t recognize you, or sorry for yourself because someone else got the position, try going through the steps outlined above. Let me know how it goes; my guess is that it won’t destroy your business. I rather think it will make you a better leader and this will eventually affect your organization for the good.

I would love to hear what you think about this post. Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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