One of the best books I have read recently is Boys in the Boat. It is about the crew team from the University of Washington in the 1930’s that when to the Berlin Olympics and beat Hitler’s team. It is a great read, and a great book on leadership in the church.
The coach at the University of Washington looked for a number of qualities for the rowing team: the potential for raw power, the nearly superhuman stamina , the indomitable willpower, and the intellectual capacity necessary to master the details of technique. But there was one quality that was most important:
the ability to disregard his own ambitions, to throw his ego over the gunwales, to leave it swirling in the wake of his shell, and to pull, not just for himself, not just for glory, but for the other boys in the boat.
Ego destroys. Look at churches in a tailspin. Look at organizations out of control. Look at departments or groupings of people. Look at me—Ego issues are destructive for relationships, for organizations, for churches.
The way of Jesus is so different–The apostle Paul challenges us in Philippians 2:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Ego gets in the way–celebrity pastors, power grabbing pastors, me. When we focus on ourselves, when we start believing what others say about us, when our ambitions and our status becomes more important than the mission, when we think that we are so necessary the mission, trouble is just around the corner.
From the Philokalia: There is scarcely any other virtue which the demons fear as much as gentleness (St. Nikodimos, The Philokalia). Ego and gentleness cannot live together.
As we lead, we must follow the way of Jesus. As we lead, we need to open ourselves to the Lord so that he way might become more a reality in our lives. We need to let trusted people around us speak into our lives and remind us when ego is on the rise.
Have the same mindset as Jesus…
Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (p. 23). Penguin Publishing Group.