I've had a couple of meetings lately in which people from my church have said to me, "You know, you're not very good at that ... here, let me help you." Those words, in the not too distant past, would have stirred up a defensive reaction (" ... what do you mean I'm not good at something") and would have led to an increased effort to prove that I, in fact, am good at that thing. That would have happened because I lived under the illusion that I could be, and should be, good at everything.
My leadership paradigm was formed in a system that promoted and celebrated the idea that leaders were supposed to be good at everything. The system called the leader who could do everything well a, "capital "L" leader." In that system we were all supposed to strive to be capital "L" leaders.
I still remember when that term was introduced. I knew exactly what the term meant and I also knew that it did not describe me because I had failed as a leader. I attempted to be good at everything and realized I wasn't. Instead of admitting that I couldn't do everything and asking for help, I resorted to inappropriate means of maintaining the image that I was good at everything. When that finally came to light the capital "L" leader became a capital "L" liar and looser.
That whole painful episode came flooding back to me in those moments when my friends sat across from me on two different occasions in one week and pointed out that there were things I was not very good at - things that they could help me with. The specter of not being a capital "L" leader rose up within me. All those feelings associated with wanting to be able to do everything, believing I ought to be able to do everything, feeling embarrased that someone saw that I couldn't do something ... all those feelings rock my emotional boat. But a good thing happened. A really good thing. I admitted I couldn't do it all, thanked them for offering their help, and am now enjoying the benefit of other people's strengths helping me in my weakness.
Here's my big discovery out of all this. All these years I thought the capital "L" stood for Leader. The capital "L" stands for "Law." The Scriptures say that when we try to live under the Law, it is always a defeating experience. But freedom and joy come as we learn to live by grace. Grace is living out of who I really am with my real strengths and real weaknesses and trusting God to help me. So, I guess, that makes me a capital "G" leader. That feels like a healthier kind of leadership to me.