As leaders (that’s you and I), we are responsible for the guidance and well-being of those we lead, whether at home, in the workplace, or in our social networks. As we develop ourselves, there are costs to consider. J. Oswald Sanders says in his book Spiritual Leadership, “To aspire to leadership in God’s kingdom requires us to be willing to pay a price higher than others are willing to pay.” In John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership he says,

“There is no success without sacrifice. Leaders must give up to go up . . . the higher you go, the more it’s going to cost you.”

Here are four things to expect as we grow in our leadership (adapted from Spiritual Leadership):

  1. Self-sacrifice. True servant leadership puts the needs of those we lead first, ahead of our own wants and needs; great servant leaders do this for the sake of their people and the organization. In contrasting servant leadership from the command and control leadership of His day, Jesus said in Mark chapter 10, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
  2. Loneliness. Because the leader must be ahead of his/her followers in charting the course, there will be loneliness. Talk to CEOs today and many will tell you this. Things are harder, more complex and tenuous, and few will join you in your journey. One way to combat this is to develop friendships with people in your position or higher. This could range from a stay at home parent group or a collegial relationship with an executive across the state. The inevitable tendency toward loneliness can be combated.
  3. Fatigue. J. Oswald Sanders said, “If a Christian is not willing to rise early and work late, to expend greater effort in diligent study and faithful work, that person will not change a generation.” We do have the ability to have a balance however. With the advent of modern technology, we have lots of discretionary time that if used appropriately, can lead to a balanced life and less fatigue (see my article on time).
  4. Criticism. Critics will always exist. What matters is how you approach criticism. It is our duty not to take offense, but to parse the helpful from the hurtful. Helpful criticism can be a huge asset to our development, and as such we should consider incorporating these discoveries into our lives. Hurtful criticism rarely is useful. A good way to gain perspective is found in the Theodore Roosevelt passage “The Man in the Arena”.

The more we know what to expect as we grow, the better able we are to recognize and incorporate things appropriately into our leadership development. I hope understanding these four costs will be of benefit to you and those you lead.