Thriving Under Poor Leadership
As I talk with other leaders, especially the younger emerging leaders, they will frequently express their frustration in the lack of good leadership that they are experiencing from their own supervisors. They will say, “Tom, I know what good leadership is and my leader is a lousy leader! How can I reach my potential and learn to lead well while I am stuck with this kind of leader over me?”
This experience is not uncommon. I will often remind these young leaders that one day they too will be supervising others and then perhaps their own direct reports will be expressing frustration with them because of their leadership. No leader is perfect. And serving under imperfect leadership is no excuse for not growing as a leader.
Jacob served a very imperfect leader–his father-in-law, Laban. Not only did Laban deliberately deceive Jacob into taking Leah as his first wife instead of his beloved Rachel, but he broke or changed employment contracts and agreements with Jacob. This was all done so that Laban might prosper at the expense of Jacob. Laban wanted to “win” and that meant the Jacob must “lose.”
But there was one over-arching factor that did not let this intentional deceit reach it’s desired end. That factor was God Himself! For God watched over Jacob and protected him from the evil and intentional deceit Laban planned for Jacob. And at the end of his service, Jacob has this testimony about his period of service: “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me.” (Genesis 31:5-7)
Not only was Jacob protected from the evil intended by a bad leader (his own father-in-law no less), but God caused Jacob to prosper under Laban’s poor leadership. And Jacob served under Laban for 20 years! Not exactly a short-term of service!
So what can we learn from Jacob’s example (and other examples like Joseph and Daniel)? God is bigger than any leader over you and He will not allow that leader to frustrate or hinder the plans He has for you. You need not worry that you won’t develop or reach your potential as a leader due to poor leadership over you. In fact, God can and will use this leader and their leadership to build you up and make you prosper, even if they intend to harm you. He is able and He will do it!
Don’t seek to flee or run out from under poor leaders. Trust God and submit to them. Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (study Jabob’s example of how he served under Laban). And watch God do “above and beyond what you can ask or imagine.”
I guess that under poor leadership we need to understand “Fractional Distillation.” (sorry, inside remark).