I was 15 when I read my first leadership book, outside of the Bible, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People”. It was a book that really helped me understand that you can be a good person, do the right thing the best you know how and still, bad things can happen.

FYI…no one is immune from the bad in the world. We are all prone to be affected by our own sin and the sin of others either directly or indirectly…on this side of heaven….there will be adversity for everyone…no one gets a free pass.

Some may not look at this book as a leadership book but for me, it gave me a better understanding of the world around me. It helped me see the world and sin from a more mature and wise perspective. It expanded my knowledge and awareness way beyond my very young and limited view. It led me and, in turn, helped me to lead others in their understanding.

I also vividly remember my mother handing me Guidepost and Reader’s Digest magazines filled with inspirational stories. I found myself starting to read more and more books that inspired, encouraged and basically they all turned out to be leadership books. Reflecting now….I can clearly see how they shaped my life and my thinking.

Today, on the Back 9, I love to read…and especially study leadership. I just returned from one of the most powerful leadership conferences I have ever attended. You see, the one thing I know…we were all created to LEAD.

The most important thing we can do is LEAD ourselves.

We are told in Matthew 5:14-16, “YOU are the LIGHT of the world. A city [me/you/us] set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but a stand and it gives light to all in the house.” [emphasis mine] It can’t get anymore clear. We are called to be LIGHT which translates to LEADERS. The bigger question today for me/you/us is: Where are we leading ourselves? Which leads to–where are we leading others?

You cannot lead others where you have not been. If you are a Christ-follower, how are you leading yourself? Are your words, even more importantly your actions, leading others to Christ or away from Christ?

The purpose of our lives “frames” everything we do! We are told in scripture to do GOOD WORKS. Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” There is not an escape button for anyone. We all have good works to accomplish. We are called a “city,” a “light”. There is no excuse.

Allow me to share a story, a testimony, that I heard at the conference. It may make this post a little long but stick with me. It is a great testimony and very compelling.

Jason Witten entered the conference room to a standing ovation. Being the female that I am, I only knew who Jason Witten was because of my husband and my boys. In case you aren’t into sports, he plays football for the Dallas Cowboys. Jason began speaking by sharing his story. He was there to speak on leadership but in order to make his point he had to back all the way up to being 12 years old.

At 12 years of age, he was on highway 81 in Texas. His father stopped the car and put his mother, his brothers and him on the side of the road and kept driving. He abandoned them! He said the memory was painful…so painful. He does not remember how they ended up getting picked up and taken to his grandparents’ house. This was during a time when there were no cell phones. He also shared that his dad had addictions and ended up taking his life. Jason was raised by his mother and grandparents.

Today, he loves the Lord due to the leadership he saw in his grandfather. Outside of football, Jason has a foundation that funds a shelter for domestic violence (something near and dear to his own heart and experience). Just this year he has focused on feeding hungry children. Those who go home from school on Friday and have no food until school starts again on Monday.

Jason Witten continued to speak the rest of the day on one simple sentence,

“Good is the ENEMY of GREAT!”

As our 25 year old son sat in the seat next to me, I was so encouraged to be experiencing with him the wisdom that Jason shared with all of us. He said, “People deserve the best of us, not the rest of us!” He also said,”You are what you tolerate!” He encouraged the thousands in the room to lead a life of IMPACT!

Needless to say he has not let the circumstances of the “BAD” at age 12 define his life. My question for myself and for you is: what are you tolerating that you don’t need to tolerate? Is your life IMPACTING others in a positive way? Am I, and are you, giving people my/our best or the rest? These were all take aways to apply to our lives.

Leadership starts with how you/me/we lead ourselves.

I encourage you today to take the adversity in your life and let it refine you, but let God and His created purpose define you. Circumstances can be dynamite used to explode and make a powerful impact in the lives of others and our world. It is a choice we all have to make. Will we choose to be the “City on a Hill” and be light, embracing our leadership role? Or will we put that light “under a basket” for none to see? I am so thankful for people like Jason Witten who have made the choice to be a “city on a hill!”

Examine your life today in light of the leader you have been created to be…and then Go lead!

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