A few nights ago as I slept, I dreamed of a strong wind blowing a bunch of hot air balloons high up in the sky in the same direction. What does it mean? Does it represent the church in some way?
I don’t know.
There is a lot I don’t know. And that can make me both a good and a bad leader. That dream about balloons may be just the fruit of my inner angst. Or maybe God is speaking to me. People who look to me for leadership no doubt hope it’s more of the latter.
Leaders & Pride
Leaders are supposed to have dreams that take us to places God wants us to go. They’re supposed to be confident and to help followers be confident.
But too much of that looks like bluster. It looks like Donald Trump on a bad hair day. A little self-doubt would go a long way in Trump’s (or Clinton’s) campaign.
Self-doubt is a cousin to humility. Proverbs has a lot to say about it. For example, “Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.” (Prov. 29:23
) or “Before a man’s downfall, his mind is arrogant, but humility precedes honor.” (Prov. 18:12
We need the word of the Lord, but even Moses was full of self-doubt. Self-doubt is a gift insofar as it pushes us toward dependence on God.
Caught in this place of ambiguity, the best leaders invite others into the leadership equation. Instead of issuing edicts, they lead conversations that connect groups to wisdom. And an appropriate amount of self-doubt can create space for those conversations to happen.
In this age in which the total amount of human knowledge doubles annually, there’s so much that we can’t know. That’s why God gave us his Holy Spirit. It’s why he had the apostles appoint elders and deacons.
In the San Blas Islands, the Kuna Indian elders have a large thatched roof hut where they meet. Hammocks are strung from pole to pole. They sit there and talk until they have consensus.
The Japanese have a similar process. They call it nemawashi
– big decisions are made through consensus building.
What decisions are you responsible for? What is your track record of decision-making? Where are you on the continuum of self-doubt and overconfidence? How are your nemawashi skills?
Paul described our conundrum as “seeing through a glass darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12
). We humans were born frail and die frail. In between, let’s not lean not on our own understanding. Let’s recognize our dependence on the one who made us and lean toward him.