Do You Learn Even From Negative Examples?
by Barry Werner
Even a negative example can teach leaders positive lessons. Read Luke 16:1-16.
As Jesus spoke with the crowd described in Luke 15:1-2, He told a perplexing story in chapter 16:1-13 that appeared at first glance to encourage dishonesty. Jesus’ real message is that Christian leaders should mimic the steward’s shrewdness, not his dishonesty. This story of the unrighteous manager teaches leaders lessons about shrewdness in business and a few subtle truths about leadership:
- Some things leaders can learn from the poor leadership in Jesus’ story:
- The leader in Jesus’ story forgot that leaders lose the right to be selfish, that leadership is about giving to others and should not be used exclusively for personal gain.
- A leader’s actions are a reflection of the leader’s core truths. The leader in the story was fired because he was not a man of integrity but rather he was wasting his employer’s goods.
The leader in the story assumed the vendors he helped cheat his employer had the same value system he had. To assume they would take him into their home (employ) once they knew he had no integrity or loyalty to his current employer was very risky and generally does not end well.
A few things even this poor leader can teach us about leadership:
- He understood the value of relationships.
- He saw a problem on the horizon and was proactive to solve it before it became a full blown crisis he could do nothing about.
- He knew how to motivate others by finding their specific need and then using his resources to meet that need.
- He understood how to use his influence to get the job done.
When leaders can see themselves as stewards of God’s resources and understand they are using their leadership gifts and talents to serve the one to whom they will one day give an account, their perspective on shrewdness and dishonesty will change. Leaders who desire to honor God will find applications on how to become a better leader – even from a negative example.
In addition to leadership roles in various ministries Barry serves in several volunteer capacities in his church and produces a daily leadership blog read by individuals throughout the world.