Ask anyone on the street what they believe are essential attributes for a leader and you will get responses like:
…and many more. But rarely will you find someone who will have this attribute on their list for leadership.
Great leaders have experienced brokenness. They have suffered pain. They are personal friends with heartbreak and disappointment. The great English pastor Charles Spurgeon had severe bouts of depression his entire ministry. George Whitefield let the woman who was the love of his life slip through his fingers. David felt forsaken and was chased through the wilderness by King Saul. Before he ever preached his first sermon or wrote a biblical treatise, Paul was broken on the road to Antioch. Robert Murray McCheyne was so broken for people that he would weep in the graveyards of Scotland over souls lost for eternity.
Brokenness leads us to the place where we realize that try as we might, we really are not in control of this universe. The planets will spin on without us. God breaks us only so that we will learn to depend on Him instead of ourselves. Learning to depend on God allows Him to work in us and through us to bring healing to others.
We have three options when we are broken. Option one involves pride. We can square our shoulders and jut out our chin and refuse to face our reality. We can deny our reality. Option two is futility. We can become so downhearted that we lose hope, and ultimately lose our way. Option three involves accepting that we are imperfect, shattered creatures. We do not need tweaking, we need transforming. In this option of brokenness, God can do His redemptive work.
If you are a Sunday School or small group leader, few things will make you a better leader than the transformation that comes through brokenness. Broken leaders are real. There is a vulnerability that comes from being broken. The people in your group can sense this vulnerability. When we allow God to transform us through our brokenness, it makes us more sensitive to the hurts and needs of others we encounter.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Philo
Great leaders experience brokenness. Many people live with brokenness throughout their lives. But they have learned to live beyond their brokenness. It is this faith in God that whatever hurt or harm that has come their way only makes them stronger in the end.
God knows the way that I take; and when He has tried me,
I shall come out as gold. Job 23:10
Bob Mayfield is the Sunday School and small groups specialist at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He also blogs at www.bobmayfield.com