Healthy Leaders


What’s an “On the Level” Leader Worth?

Dan LovagliaDan Lovaglia

“Measure twice; cut once”

I can’t tell you how many times my boss said this quippy phrase to me each summer between college semesters. Remodeling homes was hard work, but not as hard as missing the mark, scrapping materials, and starting over. Having someone look over my shoulder was humbling. Being called out or getting my work corrected never felt good in the moment. Yet, over time I began to appreciate my apprenticeship.

Eventually my boss grew to trust me. In time he gave me more opportunities. I’ll never forget the day he gave me the keys to the company office and van, a clipboard full of assignments and invoicing sheets, and headed out on vacation for the first time in a long while. “Dan, you’ve got this. I’ll see you in a couple weeks.” My boss believed in me. He wanted his business to succeed, so he hired people that could help that happen. His commitment to the truth kept my boss, his employees, and our work honest and full of integrity. Looking back, my boss was an “on the level” leader.

“On the Level” Leaders are Priceless

We all need “on the level” leaders in our lives – people who courageously tell it like it is, name what’s working and broken, plan wisely and thoroughly, and follow through with integrity. Beyond productive co-laborers, we also need “on the level” leaders who speak into our character, provide fresh perspective, and challenge us to grow.

More than twenty years later, I’m gratefully surprised that my boss’s phrases like “measure twice; cut once” still stick with me. This invaluable tip reminds me that what I do and how I do it matters, especially as a leader. At home, it’s saved me a lot of trips to the hardware store and stressful situations with my wife and kids. In pastoral ministry, I’ve been spared considerable heartache in the areas of strategic planning, finances, relationships, and much more.

Truth: “On the level” leadership saves you way more tomorrow than it costs today

Everyone wins when a leader humbly commits to being “on the level” – a leader that is honest and full of integrity in every area of life. This gets strengthened even more when leaders choose to be in community with other “on the level” leaders for insight, protection, wisdom, and prodding. Trust me, taking the high road is often much harder, but in the end the high road will take us where we want to go. What does this mean for our leadership? We need to be open and receptive to being challenged as leaders. This happens in two ways – through the Holy Spirit and trusted advisors that God places in our lives. Our commitment to becoming and being surrounded by “on the level” leaders will save us way more tomorrow than it costs us today.

I don’t know what personal or ministry challenges you’re facing today. Perhaps measuring twice and cutting once could ease your pain? Are you in the middle of an unforeseen situation that is rocking you to the core? Or, is it possible that God is bringing an “on the level” leader your way to build up your honesty, integrity, or accountability? If He hasn’t brought that person your way yet, maybe it’s time to ask Him to do so.

Are You Ready Grow as an “On the Level” Leader?

Here are some biblical principles, Proverbs, and questions for you to wrestle with this week. If you’re open to becoming an “on the level” leader, understand what it’s worth and why it matters to you. You, your family, your church, and the ministry you lead will be transformed for good if you choose to grow in this area.

“On the level” leaders are humble

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

How open are you to God’s wisdom and instruction? Who is someone “on the level” that He is using to speak into your leadership and how?

“On the level” leaders seek wisdom for protection

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)

How receptive are you to hearing feedback from multiple people with different perspectives? What’s at risk for yourself and the people you lead if you make decisions in isolation?

“On the level” leaders deal with self-deception

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)

When has God’s Spirit or a trusted friend served as a mirror for you as a leader? Who do you currently trust to reveal difficult truths about your character, opinions, motives, and plans as a leader?

“On the level” leaders prepare to win together

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22)

What ministry goals, plans, and strategies are you focused on for the next 3-6 months? What outside input and support do you need to make sure these initiatives are solid from start to finish?

“On the level” leaders respect painful realities

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)

How have you failed recently as a leader and who pointed it out? What will you do to remain open to constructive truth-telling both personally and in community with other “on the level” leaders?

So, what’s an “on the level” leader really worth?

Truthfully, we can’t answer that question with 100% certainty. However, being led by leaders on the opposite end of the spectrum will cost you dearly.

“On the level” leaders are worth (and will pay) whatever price it takes to be honest and full of integrity in every area of life

It’s never too early or late to strengthen our commitment to becoming a God-honoring leader. Everyone impacted by our leadership, including us, will be so grateful we did.

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