Editor’s Note: This is part 3 of a 9 part series on pastoral leadership that I am writing for my seminary class, Leading Christian Communities, with Dr. Kyle J. A. Small. My reflections in this series are based on the book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton.
You know how it is. You’re driving down the road, fairly certain there is no one around you. You go to switch lanes and experience the longest second of your life as you swerve to miss the car you didn’t know was there.
Blind spots. Cars have them, cell phones have them, our eyes have them, and I hate to say it, but we have them too. A blind spot is an area in which our vision is obstructed. It is a void in perception. It is something we know exists but we cannot see it. We have read the signs on semi trucks that read “avoid my blind spot” or “if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” The danger of blind spots are well documented.
Here’s the deal. we all have blind spots. We hate to admit it, but we are not perfect. We are so imperfect, in fact, that we have certain negative qualities or harmful habits that we do not even realize are a part of us. They dwell in the hidden cavern of our own personal blind spots.
Have you ever been called out on your shortcomings? This is not a pleasant experience! But what happened afterward? Having awareness about where we fall short is the first step to improving a part of ourselves. If we have no awareness of such things, how can we ever hope to be better? We cannot help having blind spots. They are simply a part of who we are. No matter how long we live and how awesome we are, we will never be perfect. Dumbledore was a fantastic leader and as awesome as awesome gets, but even he had his shortcomings.
Just because we cannot help having blind spots doesn’t mean we are off the hook. We need to be humble enough to acknowledge our less desirable qualities and bold enough to deal with them. As leaders, we cannot pretend we have it all together. People crave authenticity like a dog craves a walk. To effectively lead our communities we need to be honest with ourselves and all those that surround us.
As disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to live like him. Jesus, the only one to walk the earth without a blind spot, is our guide for how to live. Jesus also provides our measuring stick. Am I living the life Jesus would live if he was me? If not, what needs to change? How can my life look more like Jesus’ life? The closer we walk with Jesus the easier it will be to remove our blinders and deal with our shortcomings as they are brought to our attention.
One of the best ways we can start to deal with all our junk is to ask those closest to us to lovingly point out the ways we are falling short. Scary, right? Right. This takes a great deal of trust and is not to be handled carelessly. Likewise, if we open ourselves up to this, we need to practice lovingly telling others as well.
Marriage has been an incredible example for how this has played out in my life. While I hate being called out on how I’ve been a poor husband, I am much better for it now that I know what to work on. Our marriage is stronger for it. The same is true in friendships and workmates. This needs to be approached with our defenses down, our humility up, and our ears open.
We will always have new blind spots that pop up throughout the course of our lives. We can’t get rid of them all, but we can always be a better me than we are right now.Image Source: http://www.eoionline.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/human-blinders1.jpg