Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

What Can Leaders Learn from Lion Tamers

I have a confession to make. I have never been to the circus. Growing up, it just wasn’t an activity on my family’s radar. Because I’ve never had the chance to see it first hand, it remains in my mind an object of mystery. When I picture it,?it?s never?with beautiful bright colors and joyous?crowds of people. I always imagine it shrouded in shadows with the tension and thrill of people and animals moving together, ever on the edge of chaos. The first person that?comes to mind when I think of the circus is the lion tamer?brash and bold, yet somehow graceful at the same time?skilled enough?to control the power of the world’s fiercest animal. In my mind’s eye, there is a spotlight in the center of the ring on the lion tamer with his head fixed between the mighty jaws of the beast.

Can you picture it? If you can, take a snapshot of that moment in your mind, because it is here that we find a perfect picture of this thing we call leadership. I know we don’t like to talk about it, but every one of us has power as a leader. We have the opportunity to either leverage that power for good or for evil. We can leverage it to serve others fiercely and gracefully or use it?to serve our selfish-ambition.?The role of leadership is like a lion. It is beautiful, powerful, and so very dangerous.

No good lion-tamer goes into the ring puffed up with pride. All of the greats come with humility and a healthy respect for the animal’s power.?When we accept the role of leader, whether formally or informally, we are putting ourselves in the ring with a beast that could kill us, but also?if we are able to tame it?become something truly great.

I?m challenging you today to view your leadership through a new lens. Come to your role with a humble and healthy respect for the power you have as a leader. Use it wisely. Use it to serve others and to honor God above all else.

How can we tame our primal instincts like ambition and pride and use the power of leadership to make something beautiful?

There are comprehensive answers to this question in leadership books that fill your shelves and mine, but the book of James gives us a few very practical instructions on this subject.

1. Not everyone should?be a lion tamer.

Dear brothers and sisters,?not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.?(James 3:1 NLT)

Do not take your role as a teacher and leader lightly. You will be judged with a more critical eye for the things you do and say. Before you jump into the spotlight of?your next leadership role, consider seeking out a mentor or serving another leader that you respect. Always seek to learn from those who are successfully taming the lion of leadership. In the end, it is possible that you need to say ?no? to the next leadership role that comes your way. I don’t say this to make you quit, but rather to bring you pause. Consider.[quote]Always seek to learn from those who are successfully taming the lion of leadership.[/quote]

2. Start by taming your tongue.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,?but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.?Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. (James 3:7-9 NLT)

You know this well, but your words are the most powerful tool you have as a leader. Use them wisely and you will emerge alive from the jaws of the lion. Use them poorly and you won’t make it out without some teeth-mark-shaped scars on your head.[quote]Your words are the most powerful tool you have as a leader.[/quote]

3. Beware of jealousy and selfish-ambition.

For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. (James 3:16 NLT)

In the context of leadership, whenever there is jealousy and selfish-ambition in the heart of a leader, you will find disorder and evil of every kind in their organization. We have seen it over and over again, especially in churches. The presence of disorder and a breakdown of moral integrity are symptoms of jealousy and selfish-ambition at the top. Let’s all ask?the Holy Spirit to search our hearts for these things.

4. Be a peacemaker.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.?And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:17-18 NLT)

I love how God’s wisdom in Scripture?is still so unquestionably relevant to us today. Let our leadership reflect this passage. Let us enter the arena of leading others with a heart full of wisdom and a bias toward peace.

The world needs more lion taming leaders who are able to?tame their power and influence?and leverage it to lead?others toward Jesus.?Are you ready to tame the beast?

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