In a facility for the mentally challenged, a resident said to the chaplain, "The reason everyone likes you so well is because you're one of us." The chaplain smiled at the insinuation, but took the remark as a compliment.
While self-confidence and a polished presentation are desirable leadership qualities, sometimes a too-perfect image can be intimidating to those struggling with human imperfection. To build a rapport with followers, pastors or leaders may sometimes need to reveal their struggles as well as their strengths. If the pastor conquers a weakness, congregational members will realize they, too, can rise above failure.
When the Apostle Paul prayed three times that God would remove his thorn in the flesh, God replied, "My power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9, NIV). People could interact better with one who shared their frailty of the flesh.
The following examples from actual leaders may suggest ways you can expose your thorn in the flesh:
Admit wrongdoing. "I was a jerk last week," the pastor said as he confessed being insensitive to his family. His report of the improved atmosphere in the home after he apologized encouraged anyone in a strained relationship to do likewise.
Turn a negative into a positive. Just as he was ready to open his home for mentally challenged adults, the leader had an accident that severed both arms. After he learned to deal with his own limitations, he said, "I can better understand those I serve. They will relate to me because now I'm more like them."
Reveal your struggle with sin. "I sometimes have the urge to wring someone's neck," the pastor said. He did not excuse his proclivity to anger, but rather, emphasized the importance of yielding human flaws to the power of the Holy Spirit. His public confession also held him accountable to control his anger in private.
Allow learners to outdo the leader. Several ways in which Christians can emulate Jesus had been listed when someone mentioned forgiveness. "Would you believe, I've had all week to think on this lesson and I didn't even come up with something as important as forgiveness," the leader said. The usually quiet group member beamed.
Make the most of a physical impairment. Although his problem with stuttering did not usually show up while speaking before a group, one time it did. Instead of continuing to struggle or giving up in embarrassment, the pastor simply knelt at the altar to pray. As congregational members surrounded him with prayer, love blossomed.
Ask for help. "I'm scheduled for serious surgery in a few days," the counselor told a group of prison inmates during a Bible study. "I'd like for you guys to lay hands on me and pray that my surgery goes well." Afterward one of the inmates expressed appreciation for the confidence and respect shown to the men.
You don't need to have it all together to be a good leader. Just be yourself. Acknowledge your fears and failures. Show vulnerability. Your sincerity and honesty will strengthen the bond between you and those you serve.