You may feel uncomfortable if you have not practiced being vulnerable in leadership.
“Vulnerability does not mean being weak or submissive. To the contrary, it implies the courage to be yourself. It means replacing professional, distant, and cool with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” (Seppala 2014).
I [Peggy] remember the first time I told a leadership team my full personal story. My story included domestic violence, sexual abuse, addiction, and abortion in my past relationships. It was hard to see their reaction on their faces. I felt that I had exposed something about myself that was not supposed to be shared in leadership circles.
After that first meeting I thought, “This team will never trust me. They think that I am a weak leader and still struggle with relationships that are not good for me.” However, their reaction was totally different than what I had expected. Each person in the group found a point of connection with my story. They began to share their experiences with each other. This moment was a confirmation from the Lord that I needed to trust His guidance and be truthful with my team about who I was before my salvation.
As we all shared our stories of hope and healing, it opened a safe place for the team to build trust and continue to share our day to day struggles. As a team, we decided that vulnerability was a characteristic that we valued. Sharing our struggles became a regular part of our meetings.
Fear is one of the greatest reasons why we are not vulnerable with our leadership teams. We have this idea that if we are vulnerable we will lose our position of authority and respect. So, we keep our frustrations and struggles buried. However, leading in isolation is not good and will leave a leader depleted of energy and passion.
Jesus lived a very vulnerable life and was not immune to the challenges that the people of his time dealt with every day. Jesus was not afraid to speak, touch, or heal those who were the outcast, rejected, and vulnerable in society. He encouraged those who were hurting to be vulnerable when he asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36; Matt. 20:32; Mark 10:51). He was also seeking if they would be honest with themselves and with Jesus when he would ask, “do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6).
To give an answer to those questions, to the Savior of the world, takes vulnerability. We must believe that Jesus really does care about what is really going on in our hearts and lives. How would you answer the question if Jesus asked you, “Do you want to be healed?”
What does emotional, physical or spiritual healing look like to you?
Are you really honest with yourself?
Do you want to be healed?
We will not be vulnerable with our leadership teams until we are first vulnerable with Jesus about the real struggles in our hearts with sin, distraction, rejection, failure, pride, greed, insecurity, fear, comparison, complacency, and jealousy. Yet, Jesus already knows where we are struggling and is asking the question to reveal what we believe about Him.
Do we believe Jesus can heal us of our pride? Do we really believe Jesus can heal us of our greed? Will we stop comparing our lives to others and live fully surrendered to His will and lead our teams with His heart? Remember, it is not about us and our purpose in our life but God’s will and His purpose for the world.
Peggy will be continuing this series on vulnerability, so keep a watch out for the next installment.
Seppala, Emma (Dec. 2014). “What bosses gain by being vulnerable.” Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/12/what-bosses-gain-by-being-vulnerable