The authentic leader is not something that just happens to a person. There is character development, reflection, accountability, passion, and hard work in becoming an authentic leader. As I have noted, there are many great books that help us think about what it means to become a great leader, but none are as effective as the Bible. My thoughts about being genuine, authentic, and a leader of integrity are governed by the scriptures and I hope you will see that in the following. I will pose questions to myself and try to answer them as well as I can.
Which people and experiences in your early life had the greatest impact on you?
I have been blessed with great men in my life who have been examples of how Godly men should live in this world. However, the most influential person in my life has been my mother. Most of my early childhood was spent with my mother because she was my home-school teacher. My parents chose to home-school me and my siblings in our early developmental years because they believed that this would allow them to have the greatest impact on our lives moving forward. For me, it did. I was able to see how my Mother interacted with people throughout the day and to see how she scheduled our time, made plans for the following day and still managed to have a flawless home cooked meal on the table for when my father would get home from work. Without a doubt, she molded my character the most and shaped my personality to what it is today.
Growing up in the church, I was heavily influenced by my Pastor and Elders in the church. My theology about God was shaped and formed by these men. Specifically, Pastor Bill Glenn. He was not only a Pastor to me, but a great influence in my relationship to my wife. He had a such high regard for scripture that it permeated through his relationship to his wife and family. He also introduced me to the doctrines of grace and the wonderful blessings that came from applying these truths to my life. One event that changed the course of my life happened on a Sunday evening service when I was in my late teen years. We were watching a series by R.C. Sproul called “Chosen by God”. I remember walking away that night thinking deeply about my condition as a sinner in comparison to God’s Holiness and asking, “why would God even bother with me?” I was given an answer that night and I will never forget it. God didn’t need to bother with me at all and he would have been perfectly just in allowing me to to die in my own sinfulness. Just as a Judge is just in sentencing a criminal his due punishment, so was I guilty of the worst crimes known to man, I was against God. But He chose to save me, a dead man walking with no desire for the things of God, He loved me first and opened my eyes to his power and majesty and gave me life.
What tools do you use to become self-aware?
I use Holy Scripture to become self aware. By reading and meditating on God’s word, I ask myself if I believe what the Bible says about me is true. I try to answer honestly and then see if that is how I live my life. It seems to me that no other tool in life can cut to the heart of an issue like the Bible can. It dissects my motives and exposes me for who I really am. One of my favorite verses for self-awareness is in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Scripture reminds me that I am not high and mighty, nor will I ever be and I have no place for pride. At this moment, I am self-aware and I know who I am in Christ.
I use teaching to become self-aware. It’s been said, “If you want to learn something, teach it.” There are many ways I try to teach subjects to other people, including myself. First of all I coach Upward basketball for our church on occasion. I’ve played, watched, and enjoyed basketball all of my life, however, when I coach, I feel like I’ve never see a basketball in my life. Weather it’s a new technique, new play, a coaching strategy, or just simply adjusting to a new type of players, coaching and teaching go hand in hand, they prove what you really know about the subject matter. So I use coaching, teaching, managing a business, leading my wife in home studies, and so on to make myself aware of what I really know and what I think I know.
I use prayer to become self-aware. Nothing humbles me quicker than prayer. Here I am, alone with the creator of the universe trying to be honest and sincere about my troubles, joys, needs, passions, circumstances, etc. At the heart of my prayers is a desire to get from God what I want, when I want it. However, when I am in communion with God for over three sentences, I begin to truly understand who I am talking to. I get a sinking feeling that He is looking past my superficial needs and desires and he already knows what I am there for. At that moment, I ask deeper questions that turn the focus from me to him. I am know that my greatest needs have already been accomplished by Christ on the cross so I turn my attention to giving him thanks and praise for making me alive to truth. I realize that anything outside of hell is a gift from God and I have every reason in this world to be happy, joyful, at peace, and patient with God. My pressing needs become a passing temptation to use the good things in life for my own personal gain. In prayer, I am aware of who I am in Christ.
What are your most deeply held values?
The most valuable possession in my life is Christ. What flows from that are the values I hold and the reasons I get up every morning and live. Because Christ first loved me, I can see what it means to love others, especially when some are not lovely people. Christ made me value people by loving me and giving me grace when I didn’t deserve it. As a business owner, I strive to show grace, mercy and love to my employees as much as I have been shown those things in my life.
Because Christ love me first, I can work as though I’m working for God and not for men. I value the freedom we have in Christ to work hard like no other group on this planet. I know that my reward is in heaven and from that I have a desire to work everyday for God, even if I have a human boss or weather I am the boss. I am always held accountable for my work and I want it to be done with excellence. Working for the Lord produces fruit and this is how we are known, by our fruit. Work is not a curse, it is a gift from God and we can choose to either enjoy our work or despise our work by how closely we cultivate our relationship to Christ.
What motivates you extrinsically?
I am motivate extrinsically by watching people accomplish great things weather it be weight loss, good grades in school, or by accomplishing a great feat like becoming a famous actor or musician. Excellence in other people is what I feed off of in my own life. I love to watch the world perform talents that seem to be impossible. Sports are probably the greatest way I can think of that exemplified being successful. When I see Peyton Manning break passing records that we never thought could be broken or Usain Bolt run faster than any man in history, or Stephen Curry break a 3-point record in a single post-season, I get motivated to become excellent in my own profession. There is something about sports that transcends into our own lives. I have not set a touchdown record but I can learn to practice like the pros do and I can be the absolute best I can be in my everyday work environment.
What kind of support team do you have?
One of the great ironies of accountability or support is that the person asking for accountability is the person who should be holding his or her accountability partners accountable for holding him/her accountable. By this I mean that no one can hold someone accountable until they all of the sudden don’t need accountability anymore. It just doesn’t work like that. The person who needs help and support is the person who needs to do all the work. If not, then the accountability and support is for nothing. That being said, I have a team of people that I am close to who routinely conducts an audit of Jake Mansfield. I have asked them to and they have been willing to dig into my life to spot inconsistencies, sin, and places of improvement. These people are pastors of my church, my wife, and friends & family.
Is your life integrated?
Yes, I believe that most of my life is integrated in the sense that my work life, home life, spiritual life, and everyday life have all started to culminate into one purpose and one direction. As I look at the many different sections of life, I realize that they all need to be built on a solid foundation of Biblical truth. If my spiritual life is right with God, it will only come natural that the rest of my life aligns and integrates into the same purpose. Because I am a child of God, My eternal destiny has been secured, therefor, I don’t allow trials and trouble to change the course of my life. I can have financial difficulties, physical ailments, family troubles, etc. and I can continue to live for a purpose greater than myself. The purpose that God gives us infiltrates every part of our lives and integrates them over time.
What does being authentic mean in your life?
To be authentic ties so closely to integrity and genuineness. The person who understand himself/herself from an objectively truthful viewpoint can only understand what it means to be “true to yourself”, or authentic. I believe that God has allowed us all to know who we truly are in light of his word. Once we understand that we are sinful to the core, against God in everything we do, and broken beyond measure, can we than begin to have authenticity towards God and others. That understanding will allow us to come to the cross on our knees begging for forgiveness and restoration. I cannot help but think of the two men praying in the Bible who Christ calls one authentic and the other a hypocrite. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector goes like this according to Luke 18: 9-14, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. “ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Being authentic in my life is not easy. It requires that I humble myself, live with integrity, walk with God daily, and recognize who I am according to God’s word.
What steps can you take today, tomorrow, and over the next year to develop your authentic leadership?
Authentic leadership starts by acknowledging that leadership is not about you, it’s about empowering people to lead in their own leadership positions. Authentic leadership is about building people up to become leaders or improve on their existing leadership positions. The trusted position of leadership comes with great rewards. Not the kind of accolades that rock stars or actors get but the kind that come from the enjoyment of leading a group of people towards a common goal that is worthy of living for. The writers in HBR’s Leadership book, “Discovering your Authentic Leadership” chapter put it this way, “No individual achievement can equal the pleasure of leading a group of people to achieve a worthy goal.” The authentic Christian leader should be able to say the same thing except add the fact that the goal is to glorify God in our success and our failures.
There is a higher calling and a more noble cause for the Christian man who goes to work each day and lives for Christ. Weather he is a janitor, businessman, or Pastor, authenticity is an imperative for the Christian life.
Reference: HBR’s 10 Must Reads – Website Reference