Healthy Leaders


The Disappearing Leader

Lynn CerulloLynn Cerullo

Because everywhere I send you, you shall go; and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them,” declares the Lord. “For I am with you to deliver YOU. (Jeremiah 1)

Everybody talks about leaders needing more boldness and confidence ‒ that we need to make a deeper difference in the world. But rarely addressed is the actual personal path leading us to this level of inner strength and impact.

One of the most important elements of powerful leadership (the real game changer) is simply learning … to DISAPPEAR.

Once we quit fixating on what people are thinking about us, we free ourselves to now focus on them. When we disentangle ourselves from the strait jacket of self-consciousness, we actually divert people’s focus off of us. Now we can lead them, drawing them into the bigger issues at hand and their part in the story.

If we are going to truly accomplish this, we must intentionally pursue our own authentic compassion and inner freedom.

COMPASSION ‒ caring deeply and actively for others ‒ forces us to leap out of fear into doing whatever it takes to authentically reach others. We fade from our own focus as others take center stage in our hearts and minds.

We can love applause or love people. One is fear ‒ the other is fierce. Loving people makes us fearless and uncensored, unshackling us from feeling controlled by everybody’s perspectives and opinions. It launches us into the power it takes to make a real difference.

INNER FREEDOM is being untangled from secrets and fear. It’s being un-enmeshed (unhealthy emotional dependence upon anyone). It’s freedom from the pain of obsessing about ourselves. It’s finding our way and taking our place with peace, humility and godly confidence. It’s realizing that our lives are not for sale. That we are not at the whim of others … we have chosen to be quietly led by the Spirit.

As long as we’re frantic to impress people, we will not impact them. We can’t truly lead them. Impressing just draws them to ourselves. Leading takes people from where they are … up higher, farther, deeper.

Sheep who want to change and grow don’t follow shepherds with fancy staffs and the latest rods. They don’t follow after them because they know other famous shepherds. They aren’t impressed with the baritone flavor of their voice. They follow shepherds because they trust them; they know them; because they are taking them somewhere ‒ to green pastures and still waters.

This obsession with self-consciousness is not just insecurity. It can also be pride. Pride’s end goal is to be the focus. To be adored, honored, even envied. If we reduce ourselves to a charismatic personality, fierce talent or heady knowledge, people will settle for getting us to sign our book or take a pic with them. They might even secretly wish they were like us.

But if we are NOT content for people’s focus to be on us ‒ if we represent something bigger, if we disappear into a deeper confidence ‒ we may impact their inner world and chances are, they will walk away with a deeper awareness of the far bigger issues. They will stop just believing in us … and start believing in the Lord … and in themselves and their future.

When leaders learn to disappear, strength doesn’t stop with us. We start growing it in others. Instead of just instructing, we are constructing the work of God within others and it’s dynamic. When they leave us, they may leave our strength … but they will find theirs.

It’s not infrequently that leaders will stand at the crossroads of having to choose whether they will pursue becoming famous or being truly and deeply effective. Fame is fleeting and crowds are fickle.

But the work of God in a life remains forever.

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