Many of us lead from a place of strength. We want to give off an image that we have it together by showing off our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses. In our darkest moments, we may try to hide our mistakes or even blame them on others. Author and Christian speaker Brennan Manning said, “I never follow a leader who doesn’t have a limp.” What he means by a leader with a limp is someone who will be honest about their mistakes, shortcomings and even failures. This leader doesn’t try to hide weakness, but uses weakness to draw out the team.
When you look at the leaders God uses in the Bible, they are often broken, messed up and frankly questionable. God used a stuttering Moses to be His mouthpiece. God used the rejected and left for dead slave Joseph to help rule an empire during a critical moment in His people’s history. God used the stubborn, racist, runaway prophet Jonah to preach a city-wide revival to one of the most decadent towns of the time. God used back-water, blue-collared fisherman to change the world. God used the Christian-killing Pharisee Paul to spread Christianity.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “God chose what is foolish in this world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not to bring to nothing things that are so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” Can you imagine seeing that on one of those inspirational posters? “God chooses fools!”
But here is the advantage: leaders who are open, honest and forthcoming about their “limp” can be the most successful. Instead of being preoccupied about protecting their image, they are willing to trust God to work in the places where they cannot. Leaders who lead with a limp invite others to help them where they are weak. Leaders who lead with a limp give permission to their teams and teammates to also be honest creating a healthy workplace where we can serve and support one another. Further, if all the pretention of perfection is gone, a leader can then be free to risk failure in order to move the team or organization from where it is to where God wants it to be.
God spoke to Paul when he was experiencing the most profound limp/weakness of his life. God told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” While it may seem counterintuitive, the best leaders lead with a limp.