One of my favourite Australian TV dramas of all time is Wentworth. It has action, suspense, lies and betrayal, overcoming adversities, and of course, the strength of the show lies in its exploration of the psyche of its main characters.
In one poignant moment in Wentworth's most recent season, the top dog of the prison, Allie Novak, finds herself at a breaking point and she confides in her friend, "I'm scared of who I'm becoming".
Good leaders are introspective
What are the most common answers to the question, 'What makes a good leader?' A good leader leads with confidence? A good leader inspires? A good leader has a clear vision?
Why isn't a more common question: 'What qualities make a long-lasting leader?'
There is a Chinese saying that goes: 'Establishing a business is hard, but maintaining that business is even harder.' I think that saying speaks also in leadership. The allure of power slowly weakens our integrity and determination to stay faithful to God.
When we first start out, there's not much to lose. We're just at the beginning stages of being a leader. We're establishing ourselves, casting vision and winning others over to join our cause. But over time, you become established, you build a team, and you have a certain standing. Suddenly you're standing way up higher on the podium. Looking down, it's a big drop. So, the only way to survive is keep looking up and aiming higher.
Have you ever been honest and asked yourself, ‘Who am I becoming?’ Change is good and important. We are meant to be growing to become more like Christ, but in the busyness of our work, the drama of interpersonal relationships, and the chaos of external threats that might undermine our position, we tend to move the other way. We usually take the easy way or let our fears and anxieties control our actions.
Your biggest adversary is yourself
The writers of Wentworth knew all too well that we are usually the cause of our own downfall. True, Allie Novak did have lots of real issues to deal with. She was responsible of looking after the women, shutting down contraband and lifting morale in the prison. But when an ex-con returns, she was suddenly rattled and started to doubt her confidence. In order to prove to others and herself - mostly herself - that she's still top dog and has everything under control, she tries much harsher tactics that she wouldn't have if she was in a clearer state of mind.
Novak's example reminds us of King Saul's life too. He started off as a good king, obeying the Lord's instructions, but after blatantly disregarding God's commands and feeling unrepentant for his actions, the Lord's Spirit left him.
One time he was about to fight the Philistines, but when God didn't speak to him about how to win, Saul was afraid and asked for his men to bring him a psychic instead. Saul would let an untrustworthy source dictate how he should lead as king.
His gradual descent into madness because of his jealousy towards David. He later became preoccupied with killing David but only to fail. In the end, he took his own life for fear of being captured by his enemies.
‘I'm scared of who I'm becoming’ is a turning point for all of us, especially leaders who find themselves under the grip of power. Spiderman's uncle was a wise man because he said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’.
Good leaders actively reject the temptation of power
Greed, jealousy, selfishness, pride, vanity… are all sin to avoid. A foolish leader is one who thinks he/she will not be affected by it or arrogantly believes no one will notice. The more we try to hide our incompetence or insecurities, the more our actions will betray us.
The test of a good leader is to see how much power has changed the person over time.
The greatest person who ever walked this earth and survived the lure of power was none other than Jesus. Not too long ago I read from a book - though sadly I've forgotten which one! - in which the author said:
‘Here is where I will rejoice. I will delight in non-power, non-aggression, non-domination, non-pleasure, non-wealth, non-success… Now that is freedom!’
Jesus was the freest human in the world because he was free from the love of power, he was free from the need to use violence and aggression to achieve what he wanted, he didn't seek to dominate others, he lived for the pleasure of his Father, and he didn't need material wealth or success.
Today, I too, will delight in…
Rachel is a pastor, preacher and writer. Based in Sydney, she’s a fan of literature, sport and the arts. Check out her website rachellhli.wordpress.com