This second installment of our vulnerability series is designed to pull you in and invite you think about your own situation and habits. So, grab a journal and take some time to process these questions. Part 3 will include practical exercises. But first, reflect.
Every day we have opportunities to be vulnerable at our work and in our communities. However, it can look very different than what you may assume vulnerability to be. We often associate it with weakness. Portrayals of leadership are stoic, put-together people who do not show fear or weakness. But, vulnerability is a sign of strength (see Part 1).
Vulnerability can be challenging for many reasons. For some, it’s the risk of trusting someone. For others, it’s a fear of being misunderstood or looking foolish. One of the most common reasons is simply misunderstanding vulnerability. Our preconceived ideas of what it means to be vulnerable may be the real barrier.
Before we move on, take a few minutes and write down what it means, to you, to be vulnerable with your leadership team, friends, or family.
What did you come up with?
Why is it difficult for you to practice vulnerability with those people? You may have to dig deep into your motivations as you write.
Now that you have a grasp of what is keeping you from being vulnerable with others, let’s look at what Scripture has to say.
Where Scripture comes in
There are so many great examples in the Bible of vulnerable leaders. Joseph, David, Joshua, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, and Isaiah are a few from the Old Testament stories. However, the best places to find the most vulnerable leader is found in the Gospels – Jesus. Jesus lived a life of vulnerability by being fully surrendered to His Father’s will for His life.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” - John 4:34
If you want to be a vulnerable leader, one of the most rewarding things you can do is to read through the Gospels every year to study the life and leadership of Christ. Pay attention to how Jesus treats others, invites his disciples into His ministry, and relies on His Father for support. For me, studying Jesus’ life every year transforms my perspective on the importance of vulnerability in leadership.
Jesus lived a life that not only gave hope and healing to the suffering and outcasts but provided relevant and guided leadership training for the twelve disciples and the other followers. He was quick to stop and ask questions of the disciples about the leadership and the culture they were living.
In the New Testament you can find more leadership principles that require vulnerability. Here are a few Scriptures to consider:
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." - Phil. 2:3-7
"Do to others as you would have them do to you. " - Luke 6:31
"Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'” - Matt. 20:25-28
"He must become greater; I must become less." - John 3:30
"A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." - Luke 22:24-26
After reading through these passages, go back to your journal answers about why vulnerability was so challenging. Reexamine your reasons.
Have these verses changed your perspective?
Is there anything that you need to pray about?
Is there an answer that is too difficult to deal with now? Ask God for help in opening your heart and giving you direction in that situation.
Are there small actions or conversations that you can incorporate into your life to build a habit of vulnerability with people you trust? Make a short list and try doing one of them.
You are well on your way to living a more vulnerable life. It is not a quick process, but vulnerability means opening our hearts and showing the love of Christ in our day to day activities. The teachings in Scripture challenge us to live vulnerably by seeking the wellbeing of others and being humble.
We hope you enjoyed this installment of our vulnerability series. Next week, Peggy will be sharing some practical ways to incorporate vulnerability into your day-to-day life. Let us know what you think here or on Twitter.