I never have liked the book of Psalms. I usually think this is because I am uncomfortable that poetic prayers that ask for the complete destruction of one’s enemy. Sure Psalm 23 is beautiful but the one about enemies throwing their infants down onto rocks makes me cringe. That is until I realized I was missing some of the beauty of the Psalms.
In his introduction to the book Eugene Peterson flips me on my head by pointing out the obvious, the Psalms are in the Bible not because of their perfection but for their honest imperfection. Honesty is the primary characteristic of prayer, well prayers like the Psalms at least.
Honesty is hard because it is easy to lie.
In leadership I don’t think I have a problem sharing credit, but I do have a problem being honest.
As I talk with other leaders in the church I serve with I find myself lying a lot. Not in the “denying I am a serial killer” type of lie, but definitely “oh, yeah I’m working on that”. Most of the time when I say that I am not anywhere near as far along as I like to lead others on to believe. I think there are two main reasons I do this:
I am a procrastinator at heart.
No matter how many great books I read on the subject or how many times I commit to changing my ways, I continue to struggle mightily in that area. Wasting time is an issue for me, but mainly it is poorly managing time. Good being the enemy of great (or however that cliche leadership line goes) is something I am very familiar with. As I am discovering more discipline in my life I am becoming all too aware of just how much I can lack focus in a daily routine.
The answer lies in better tools, accountability, and self control but nothing is going to replace virtue coming through practice. To get to where I want and need to be I will have to train myself, and anyone who has taken on any endeavor of athletics or art knows that only repetition can get you there. Being a naturally gifted works for some, but the rest of us have to develop good habits.
I lack self-esteem.
I can be humble. Being humble entails letting people share the prize. I have a hard time being vulnerable. When I am caught in a mistake or am challenged I feel attacked. Admitting I am behind or made a mistake may sound like humility, but for me it is more about making myself vulnerable. For whatever reason (and you would think a son of psychiatrist may have a better handle on this) I crave affirmation and fear rebuke.
This is my own spin on pride. I have trained myself to shy away from accolades, but haven’t allowed the reverse to take effect. Which means I am not allowing God to sustain me, I still am relying on my own efforts. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know where this ends up.
If I can’t be honest I can’t lead.