Taoimage For the person who would dare to step out front and lead, he/she should know that they have just entered a journey of growth on every level of life. Leaders know all too well that there are many people who seemingly live to attack their leadership filling the air with complaints and accusations that would make your momma blush.

There are decisions to make that are guaranteed to please some and anger others. There are relational concerns, emotional drains and physical tasks that demand far more than they repay.

Good leaders are always looking at the areas that they need to grow in, whether it is emotional, spiritual, intellectual or physical. That is one of the main reasons that every great leader that I know is a man or woman who is also a great reader.

They tear into authors old and new to stretch their brain, broaden their vision and equip their teams for the future.

One leader who lived thousands of years ago captured the ancient teaching of the Tao into a document, and in it, there are some truisms that leaders can grab onto, even as we have learned from another ancient leader, Sun Tzu's,  militaristic work, The Art of War.

The Tao has been around for a long time. A compilation of proverbs, so to speak, that instruct the listener on how to live a healthy, happy and balanced life. According to legend Lao Tzu ( a contemporary of Confucius) was keeper of the archives at the imperial court.
When he was eighty years old he set out for the western border of China,
toward what is now Tibet, saddened and disillusioned that men were
unwilling to follow the path to natural goodness. At the border (Hank Pass), a
guard, Yin Xi (Yin Hsi), asked Lao Tsu to record his teachings before he left.
He then composed in 5,000 characters (or 81 proverbs) the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its

You may have encountered some of the teachings of the Tao but not have known it was the Tao! For example, one famous saying is, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Ah, yes, now you remember!  The 17th entry of the Tao Te Ching has some great insight for leaders:

The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.
The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst one is the leader that is despised.

If you don't trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.
When she has accomplished her task,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!"


Lao Tzu reveals four levels  or types of leadership.

Leaders that are pleasers…Leaders that get results through threats…Leaders who are so self-interested that no one likes them. You can probably think of one or more leaders that you have had the pleasure of being around that fit one of those three descriptions! I am also betting that you would never want to emulate or become like them. You might even have a nauseous feeling in your stomach right now simply remembering what it was like to work for a person who used threats, intimidation, or was always taking the credit for a job well done even when it was not his or hers to take.

For Lao Tzu the best leader is the one who empowers and lifts up others. This leader does not need to place his face on every promotional item, nor does every good thing have to point towards her, rather when the mission is accomplished, the people say, "Look at what WE did!"

If you are to become a world-class leader there are a few things to remember:

1. Ego is the greatest killer to empowering those around you to become the best that they can become.

2. When you focus on raising the elevation of your team, you too, will be elevated.

3. You will limit the success of your team or organization based upon your need to promote yourself and receive the strokes of accomplishment.

4. When you lead from a spirit of humility, you will accomplish more, live in relational health, empower others, create friends, and find that you don't need accolades from outside to make you feel good about who you are, or to give you a sense of worth.

This week, think about ways that you can empower those around you…share the credit for a job well done…thank someone you work with for their energy and effort on your behalf…resist the temptation to make it all about you.

You will notice at first that this is uncomfortable, perhaps even a bit unnatural. It is. We live in a culture that celebrates the celebrity…where we shout for the home-run hitter far more than the RBI hitter! But remember our God dwells in paradox, and sometimes our best wisdom causes that cosmic eyebrow to raise 🙂

Yet…their is a joy that awaits you if you would transition towards this different kind of leadership. John the Baptist said it this way:

"He must increase and I must decrease."

Jesus put it in another way:

"Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."

Choose today to become an Incarnational leader, a man or woman who allows God to flow through them creating a preferred reality for everyone around them!

Dei Gratia,


1 Comment

  1. Thank you. That was the perfect inspiration for me this morning and was just what I needed!

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