I don’t claim to be a great leader, but I am much better than I would be because of my wife, Kaye. God has used her and continually uses her to make me better. The relationships the Lord gives us are given to us, in part, for our own sanctification. God puts people around us to sharpen us, challenge us, and show us areas in our lives that need change. Here are three ways Kaye has made me a better leader:
Leaders who never reflect on their decisions are prone to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Leaders who never think about their leadership are prone to forget the why behind all the activity. Being married has greatly increased by personal reflection. Because I love being with Kaye and love talking to her, she asks me penetrating questions and helps me process and learn.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” Great leaders love the people they lead. Leadership is more than a set of ideas, principles, or strategic direction. Leadership is ultimately about people and for people. A leader without compassion is a leader who often hurts more than helps.
Kaye loves people and sees incredible potential in people. As a schoolteacher, Kaye has always enjoyed getting kids in her class that other teachers “warned her about.” When someone does something that I find frustrating, Kaye often reminds me of something she learned when getting her master’s degree in mental health counseling: “Everyone’s behavior makes sense to them.” When we put ourselves in the shoes of others, when we understand their situation, their actions make more sense to us.
Marriage is sanctifying. God uses our marriages to make us more like Him. And leaders who are more like Jesus are better leaders. The recent leadership book Return on Character chronicles research that shows companies that are led by leaders who are forgiving, compassionate, and filled with integrity are healthier organizations. Who doesn’t want to follow a leader who is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control?
Whether you are married or not, the people the Lord has surrounded you with are there to help you mature and grow. And this should make you a better leader.