Have you ever thought about what it means to be a sacrificial leader? What that looks like in your life, or if those that lead you lead with sacrifice? I personality had never given it much thought, and the first time the topic was brought up to me my thoughts were “sacrifice, that does not sound like something I want to do.” The world today tells us that in order to be successful we must think about ourselves, number one, be selfish, get ahead….so why would leading with sacrifice make me a leader, or get me anywhere in today’s world? This challenging question was addressed at the Pinnacle Forum Breakfast where Dr. Rob McKenna and his father Dr. David McKenna spoke about Sacrificial Leadership.
Both Rob and his father spoke about leadership in their own lives; Dr. David McKenna spoke about the challenges of leadership as a father, university president, and leader in the community. He shared the difficulties of following God’s will and moving his family across the country, when what he was sacrificing was difficult not only for him, but for his son. As he discussed this I thought about how sacrificing yourself is difficult, but what about making a sacrifice to lead when the ones that may have to sacrifice are the ones you love most? Not only that, but making that decision with confidence, knowing that you are following what you believe to be God’s will, and at times having to convince yourself that the sacrifice is worth it. Is that what we call faith? Being able to sacrifice, even when it is painful, and trusting that God will shape us and those we love, and bring us to where we will be best used? Perhaps the most powerful part of this story was listening to Dr. David McKenna share this story while his son listening in the audience was brought to tears. It was apparent that this decision was probably one of the most difficult in their life. However, a few moments later when Dr. Rob McKenna stepped up to speak it was evident that God was faithful, and his father’s leadership and sacrifice had lead Rob into his own leadership journey.
Dr. Rob McKenna recently published his book Dying to Lead, Sacrificial Leadership in a Self Centered World. It’s a book that has stirred up many interesting conversations, because Sacrifice and leadership seem to pull in different directions. How do you lead when you are being pulled to Sacrifice like Christ did, and also stand strong in your convictions so that those you lead have confidence and trust in you? Dr. Rob McKenna discussed his journey as a leader; as a father, university professor, and Chair of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Department at Seattle Pacific University. He is pulled in many directions, is a leader in multiple aspects of his life, has published a book on Sacrificial Leadership. Yet what is surprising about Rob McKenna is that he would be the first person to tell you that leading is difficult and that he too struggles with it. As a leader you are pulled in opposing directions and asked to lead others and at the same time follow God, which in itself seems to be living in opposition. Being a Sacrificial Leader is a paradox that seems nearly impossible. Then, he jumped into a story that illustrates this leadership perfectly, a story about his 5 and 7 year old sons; and how they sacrificed themselves, demonstrated humility, responsibility, and selflessness. As much as I would love to elaborate on the story, it is much more meaningful and comical when Rob tells it himself, so I will make you wait in anticipation. J
After listening to both Dr. David McKenna and Dr. Rob McKenna speak I challenged myself to live with Sacrifice. I am not a university president, professor, parent, or a manager in a large corporation, I am a 23 year old college graduate who recently retired from being a leader in the athletic arena and now find myself following more than I lead. However, I am sure I am leading in my own way and am convinced if I strive to follow God and lead with sacrifice I will have a larger and more meaningful impact on the world, and hope to one day have stories to share like Dr. Rob and David McKenna.
To learn more about the Pinnacle Forum visit http://www.pinnacleforum.com/seattle/
To learn more about Sacrificial Leadership visit www.dyingtolead.com