I have had the privelege of leading people for more than thirty years. It is an honor to lead, but it is also a great responsibility. It is a heavy weight to carry because the life you live in front of people says more to them than what you speak verbally. I can prepare a lesson and give some great advice on leadership, but if my life doesn’t back up what I say, then my words mean nothing. Months and even years of leadership training can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. For the people I lead, my life is the most important leadership book they’ll read. That my friend is an incredible responsibility to carry.
The weight of leadership is fair, but at times it can also be unfair. There are times you don’t feel like being the example. There are those moments when you would like to say how you really feel about a certain subject. As leaders, we don’t have that privilege. We must understand that people are watching us and how we act and react is a part of our leadership teaching. Sometimes that is just not fair.
Every leader that reads this blog will know exactly what this next statement means.
“WE SMILE IN PUBLIC AND CRY IN PRIVATE”
While people are watching us, we feel the need to put a smile on our face and hope that everything is going to be alright. That’s not being a fake, that’s acting in faith. That’s understanding the importance of leading with a positive influence. It’s teaching people through your actions that no matter what is going on in your life or your surroundings, you can use your attitude to change the altitude. Engaging in negative conversations is not healthy. If you continue in that direction, where does it end? Who says, “Enough Is Enough”? The leader does…even if he or she agrees with some of the things being said. You put a smile on your face and take the conversation up to another level, not further down.
Leaders hurt, suffer and have bad days…they just can’t show it. You end up laughing when you would rather cry…you appear pleasant when you are really feeling angry and frustrated. You speak as if everything is alright when deep inside you are stressing about something personal. You encourage others, but no one really knows how much you need what you’re giving away. You put your arm around someone and tell them they’re going to make it, but you’re not even sure that you’ll make it. The external never reveals the battle of the internal.
When it’s over and when no one is watching, you step into a place that’s deemed private and you cry. For just a few moments you’re able to release some things that are built up inside of you. You can finally be yourself and express how you really feel about whatever it is you’re going through. You would never want the people you lead to see you like this, but it’s really none of their concern because you need your crying time. You need those times when you’re not in front of anyone and you’re not feeling the pressure to act a certain way and you can just feel the release.
A close friend of mine just spoke into my life a few days ago and reminded me of how important it is for a leader to rest. He explained that a lack of rest can result in a lack of focus. Resting for a leader is like rebooting a computer. No matter how great the computer is and what all it’s able to do, after a while it will just start running slow and need to be shut off for a while and then turned back on. Leaders are the same way. Your ability to perform for others and help them is contingent on your rest. One of the reasons this is so important is because rest time is private time. It is imperative that you rest and have those private times.
Every now and then you will have people in your life that will allow you to have those moments of frustration and it won’t affect how they feel about you. In fact, they will love you so much that they will want to be a shoulder you can cry on. You can be weak in front of them, but in their eyes you’re still very strong. However, be careful before you share those moments with someone…it can be used against you. I’ve had people ask me to share my load with them, only to betray me in time. Every leader has had to deal with this and it leaves you frustrated and completely confused. You think to yourself, why did they want to be that close to me if they were only going to betray me in time? I’m sure Jesus thought the same thing after Judas sold Him out for 30 pieces of silver.
If this has happened to you, don’t let it change who you are in public, but you might want to change who you allow to see you in private. Some people can only see you smile, so for them, we smile. For the handful of people you will accumulate in a lifetime that can see you cry and it not change how they feel about you, love them and tell them how thankful you are to have them in your life. It won’t take you long to tell them, because there will not be many.
As you carry the weight of leadership, you will learn to “SMILE IN PUBLIC AND CRY IN PRIVATE”.