Grateful for the Tough Stuff in Leadership

praiseI have two young sons who have been doing a lot of complaining lately. I mean we have experienced a full-on, ungrateful funk. As a parent, this makes me absolutely crazy. I often resort to telling stories of children in Africa who live in a hut with their 10 family members the size of our home’s entryway.  My other form of cruel and unusual punishment is to ask them to count their blessings, to “name them one by one” as the old hymn says. Eventually, they change their attitudes and their minds about how tough life is in the Pierce family.

But I’ve noticed lately that my blessings list has been pretty one-sided. Not once did I count as a blessing anything I experienced in leadership that was difficult, ugly, or just plain hard. It’s harder to express gratitude in the daily grind. I rarely notice the gifts found in the moments that are far from fun. And yet, these moments are the very ones God has used to refine me and shape me into the woman He wants me to be.

So, I’d like to share with you a bit from my revised blessings list. My expression of gratitude for “the tough stuff in leadership”:

  • I’m grateful for the gift of carrying one another’s burdens. What an honor and privilege to be the one to listen, care, and pray with someone in their most difficult hour.
  • I’m grateful for my experiences where I’ve been criticized as a leader, woman, and mom. These remind me my identity and worth cannot be found in a job, a role, or in the eyes of others, but in Christ alone.
  • I’m grateful for the projects and decisions that failed miserably. I didn’t just learn from my mistakes, but also realized I couldn’t believe my own press. I had to start extending grace: not just to others, but to myself as well.
  • I’m grateful for the awareness of devastating issues facing women around the world. Because I know, even just a little, I must choose to live and lead differently.
  • I’m grateful for the dark nights of my soul. They forced me to stop leading out of my own strength and re-connect with my Creator.

This list is quite different from my first one. It’s really easy for me to thank God for the successes or fun surprises, but being grateful for the tough stuff of leadership takes a little more time, a little more thought. I challenge you to take on this exercise of appreciation and see what pops up on your list of tough stuff – you’ll be glad you did.

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One thought on “Grateful for the Tough Stuff in Leadership

  1. Thanks for this reminder, Julie. This is a great exercise! I would add to the list the situations that have given me no choice but to do something I was absolutely sure I could not do.