What It Isn’t

A couple weeks ago at Cross Point, during his message about the dangers of Leaving God Out of marital relationships, Pete Wilson made the following statement:

If you constantly feel the need to tell your family you’re the spiritual leader of your house, you’re probably not.

BAM. Go ahead. Pick yourself up off the floor and read that again. I’ll wait.

I can relate to that statement in a very personal way that it wouldn’t be wise for me to go into right now. Just suffice it to say, I know that statement to be all too true.

But it’s not just about being a spiritual leader in your home, it applies to a lot of things.

If you constantly feel the need to tell people you’re…

an  influencer…
an innovator…
a leader...
the boss...

… you’re probably not.

The people I know who are truly influencing, innovating, leading, etc, are typically too busy actually influencing, innovating and leading to stop and identify themselves as such.  Truth is, there is much more to being a leader, an influencer, et al than simply calling yourself one.  The “be called a leader” line is long, while the “actually BE a leader” line is much shorter. A lot of people want the title, while far fewer are willing to commit to the work. The grind is the grand differentiator.

Along similar lines, lately I’ve been thinking about how there seems to be an unending litany of resources aiming to tell us what things ARE.  Books, blogs and bold headlines shout from newsstands and our computer screens at every turn, touting the secrets of “what leadership is”, “the truth of innovation” or “flexing your influence”.

Far more rare are the cautionary, but equally vital, voices that whisper things like, “don’t do that”.  In my experience, along with every lesson I have and am constantly learning about what something like leadership IS, comes with it other, often more subtle, less-obtrusive and easily glossed-over lessons about what it ISN’T.

Many love to bask in the glory of the win, but I want to hear more chronicles of lessons from the loss.  Most opportunities to learn and grow don’t come from the win, anyway. They come from disappointment, confession and humility; from watching game tapes and going back to the drawing board.  There is often more perspective, truth and wisdom to be gleaned from a loss than a win. As such, sometimes winning looks like losing.

Wins may exalt you, but losses shape you.

I need more of those voices in my life… balanced and seasoned voices from the sidelines, coaching me to embrace the reality of what something isn’t just as much as what it is…. voices from just outside the winner’s circle whose limping stride is a character receipt… voices that might still tremble when recounting their stories of recklessness, recovery and redemption… voices that exhort and refuse to let me settle for simply being called a leader without fully engaging my heart in what it means to actually lead.

Do you have any “what it isn’t” moments or voices in your life that have shaped you?


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Grant JenkinsWhat It Isn’t

Thank you. Need to mine our losses for lessons.


I agree with you about learning more in losses than from victories. However, don't discount the wins or victories or redemptions. Those things can be much needed fuel when losses just keep piling up.


Thanks for the nudge ... even if it's to push me off the pedestal of my own making ... especially appreciate what you said about "lessons from the loss" - as Sheila Walsh says, "Our brokenness is a better bridge to others than our pretend wholeness will ever be." I can relate to the "sometimes winning looks like losing" - we're intentionally downsizing, making choices that look like defeat has set in - but it hasn't.


Thanks Grant, for this post. This is huge in my life right now. I'm facing a lot of "what it isn't" on a few levels. My son, graduated college, returned home and diagnosed with a mental illness that no amount of mothering can take away; his and our family's relationship isn't what it used to be and we are not sure if it will ever be again. My marriage, taking the brunt of reality as hurts are exposed and truths revealed and mixing this now-dependent child in the mix; it isn't anything my husband or I hoped it to be and maybe it never will be. Everything is a new normal, and I desperately want to go back to the old normal most days. I have never felt life to be so raw, hard, emotional, heart-searing as it's been since January.

But yet, here I am. Wounded but not broken, stretched but not snapped, pulled but not completely untied. God is still God and He is still on the throne, and if we were not going through these things I'd have no pain to speak out of at a future date when maybe someone will need empathy from me because they are going through the same set of circumstances. That's the only thing that makes sense right now- that God will use this present pain for future goodness.

anidolheart moderator

@JasonWert I certainly don't discount any of those things, and there are lessons in all of them. But given the choice, I believe we tend to lean into our wins more than our losses, often overlooking less-obvious growth opportunities.