Leadership: Brokenness makes for a better leader

Personally, I have learned more, seen more and done more out of brokenness than out of my talent, experience or skill.  During times of weakness, it seems God makes Himself more real to me.  When you are a leader–fill in the blank like being a dad, a pastor, a music director, a worship leader–you never quite measure up to the task.  At least, that is what I think of myself when I am broken.  This includes the all-important leadership of self.

One example was when I was able to lose over 50 pounds in 2006 and keep most of it off–until moving and gaining a bit of it back recently.  I had the threat of cancer, and the impending surgery and my failing thyroid apparently made this all that much harder emotionally as well as physically.  With the help of my wife, friends, and prayer, I realized that I really could not accomplish this with my own resources. Results began to be visible and real.

It takes a huge effort to change.  Leadership at its best effects change in yourself and in others. When I am humble enough to see my weaknesses and lack of resources without God’s intervention I am ready to lead.  I can listen better, speak better and think more clearly.  My skills, talents and experiences actually come into focus.

God’s strength indeed manifests when I am weak. (2 Corinthians 12:9)  Only then can I lead.  So, when the temptation to boast about my accomplishments rears its head, the game plan is to see that accomplishments of worth originate from God’s showing up in my ineptitude.

Does this make sense in your experience?  Do you see God as more real when you are “with it” or when you are weak?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

40 comments

  1. So true. As leaders we try hard to maintain a facade of ‘dialed in’ and having it all together, because we think a lot of people want to follow a ‘winner’

  2. So true. As leaders we try hard to maintain a facade of ‘dialed in’ and having it all together, because we think a lot of people want to follow a ‘winner’

  3. So true. As leaders we try hard to maintain a facade of ‘dialed in’ and having it all together, because we think a lot of people want to follow a ‘winner’

  4. So true. As leaders we try hard to maintain a facade of ‘dialed in’ and having it all together, because we think a lot of people want to follow a ‘winner’

  5. I believe that we are always facing a certain degree of brokenness, because of who we are as humans and our fallen state. Although I also believe that God can lift us up into days where we feel like we have it all together, days with great energy, knowledge and ability. God can work in us just as well on those days, when we acknowledge that He is out strength, as well as in the weak.

  6. I believe that we are always facing a certain degree of brokenness, because of who we are as humans and our fallen state. Although I also believe that God can lift us up into days where we feel like we have it all together, days with great energy, knowledge and ability. God can work in us just as well on those days, when we acknowledge that He is out strength, as well as in the weak.

  7. I believe that we are always facing a certain degree of brokenness, because of who we are as humans and our fallen state. Although I also believe that God can lift us up into days where we feel like we have it all together, days with great energy, knowledge and ability. God can work in us just as well on those days, when we acknowledge that He is out strength, as well as in the weak.

  8. I believe that we are always facing a certain degree of brokenness, because of who we are as humans and our fallen state. Although I also believe that God can lift us up into days where we feel like we have it all together, days with great energy, knowledge and ability. God can work in us just as well on those days, when we acknowledge that He is out strength, as well as in the weak.

  9. Agreed.
    When I have pride and confidence in myself to accomplish my goals, I am not as effective. It is when I humble myself and stay broken before God that He decides to work and do amazing things through me.

  10. Agreed.
    When I have pride and confidence in myself to accomplish my goals, I am not as effective. It is when I humble myself and stay broken before God that He decides to work and do amazing things through me.

  11. Agreed.
    When I have pride and confidence in myself to accomplish my goals, I am not as effective. It is when I humble myself and stay broken before God that He decides to work and do amazing things through me.

  12. Agreed.
    When I have pride and confidence in myself to accomplish my goals, I am not as effective. It is when I humble myself and stay broken before God that He decides to work and do amazing things through me.

  13. Vince–we don’t want to follower losers, however. Results still matter, right? Its simply that God, in my experience, meets me at a deeper level during the times I am actually aware I need Him. Being able to succeed as a leader and change and see others transformed is just a new definition of “winning” perhaps.
    Matt–Its in the weak though that we see Him most, right? Or, are the times we think we have it together simply a delusion.

  14. Vince–we don’t want to follower losers, however. Results still matter, right? Its simply that God, in my experience, meets me at a deeper level during the times I am actually aware I need Him. Being able to succeed as a leader and change and see others transformed is just a new definition of “winning” perhaps.
    Matt–Its in the weak though that we see Him most, right? Or, are the times we think we have it together simply a delusion.

  15. Vince–we don’t want to follower losers, however. Results still matter, right? Its simply that God, in my experience, meets me at a deeper level during the times I am actually aware I need Him. Being able to succeed as a leader and change and see others transformed is just a new definition of “winning” perhaps.
    Matt–Its in the weak though that we see Him most, right? Or, are the times we think we have it together simply a delusion.

  16. Vince–we don’t want to follower losers, however. Results still matter, right? Its simply that God, in my experience, meets me at a deeper level during the times I am actually aware I need Him. Being able to succeed as a leader and change and see others transformed is just a new definition of “winning” perhaps.
    Matt–Its in the weak though that we see Him most, right? Or, are the times we think we have it together simply a delusion.

  17. I would say that this is totally true for me. I have walked through a painful three years, a time of intense pain and broken is the word I would use to best describe myself during that time. As painful as it was, it was a time I was most humble and on my face and most alive to the work of God. Being desperate will do that for you! I see now that brokenness brings desperation for God and desperation for God is a gift.
    Here’s a quote from myself in a sermon I gave back in September: “In the darkness of brokenness we become quite desperate for God to do the work we would not allow when we were walking in the light.” In other words, when life is easy, we can function many days as if we do not need God. The feeling of our need for Him can become numbed. We can begin to feel self sufficient. But in times of brokenness we cry out to God with an abandon we may have never experienced before “God, if I do not hear from you I simply cannot go on!”. God honors that prayer, that desire and He works within us in deep ways.

    God did a huge work within my heart and life as I “led through brokenness”. I think God used this testimony more than every natural aptitude and gifting I have……

  18. I would say that this is totally true for me. I have walked through a painful three years, a time of intense pain and broken is the word I would use to best describe myself during that time. As painful as it was, it was a time I was most humble and on my face and most alive to the work of God. Being desperate will do that for you! I see now that brokenness brings desperation for God and desperation for God is a gift.
    Here’s a quote from myself in a sermon I gave back in September: “In the darkness of brokenness we become quite desperate for God to do the work we would not allow when we were walking in the light.” In other words, when life is easy, we can function many days as if we do not need God. The feeling of our need for Him can become numbed. We can begin to feel self sufficient. But in times of brokenness we cry out to God with an abandon we may have never experienced before “God, if I do not hear from you I simply cannot go on!”. God honors that prayer, that desire and He works within us in deep ways.

    God did a huge work within my heart and life as I “led through brokenness”. I think God used this testimony more than every natural aptitude and gifting I have……

  19. I would say that this is totally true for me. I have walked through a painful three years, a time of intense pain and broken is the word I would use to best describe myself during that time. As painful as it was, it was a time I was most humble and on my face and most alive to the work of God. Being desperate will do that for you! I see now that brokenness brings desperation for God and desperation for God is a gift.
    Here’s a quote from myself in a sermon I gave back in September: “In the darkness of brokenness we become quite desperate for God to do the work we would not allow when we were walking in the light.” In other words, when life is easy, we can function many days as if we do not need God. The feeling of our need for Him can become numbed. We can begin to feel self sufficient. But in times of brokenness we cry out to God with an abandon we may have never experienced before “God, if I do not hear from you I simply cannot go on!”. God honors that prayer, that desire and He works within us in deep ways.

    God did a huge work within my heart and life as I “led through brokenness”. I think God used this testimony more than every natural aptitude and gifting I have……

  20. I would say that this is totally true for me. I have walked through a painful three years, a time of intense pain and broken is the word I would use to best describe myself during that time. As painful as it was, it was a time I was most humble and on my face and most alive to the work of God. Being desperate will do that for you! I see now that brokenness brings desperation for God and desperation for God is a gift.
    Here’s a quote from myself in a sermon I gave back in September: “In the darkness of brokenness we become quite desperate for God to do the work we would not allow when we were walking in the light.” In other words, when life is easy, we can function many days as if we do not need God. The feeling of our need for Him can become numbed. We can begin to feel self sufficient. But in times of brokenness we cry out to God with an abandon we may have never experienced before “God, if I do not hear from you I simply cannot go on!”. God honors that prayer, that desire and He works within us in deep ways.

    God did a huge work within my heart and life as I “led through brokenness”. I think God used this testimony more than every natural aptitude and gifting I have……

  21. Rich, this is some great insight. I’ve done the “I’m the infallible perfect leader” thing (earlier in my life) and it nearly crushed me. The broken and humbled me that came out of that is the one that realized that I needed help. The me since then has discovered that the help I need comes from my dependence on and obedience to God.
    It’s not that God shows up in these times of brokenness. It’s that we stop being blinded by our own stuff (ego, pride, etc) and we finally see that He is there with us.

    Keep the good stuff coming.

    Peace.

  22. Rich, this is some great insight. I’ve done the “I’m the infallible perfect leader” thing (earlier in my life) and it nearly crushed me. The broken and humbled me that came out of that is the one that realized that I needed help. The me since then has discovered that the help I need comes from my dependence on and obedience to God.
    It’s not that God shows up in these times of brokenness. It’s that we stop being blinded by our own stuff (ego, pride, etc) and we finally see that He is there with us.

    Keep the good stuff coming.

    Peace.

  23. Rich, this is some great insight. I’ve done the “I’m the infallible perfect leader” thing (earlier in my life) and it nearly crushed me. The broken and humbled me that came out of that is the one that realized that I needed help. The me since then has discovered that the help I need comes from my dependence on and obedience to God.
    It’s not that God shows up in these times of brokenness. It’s that we stop being blinded by our own stuff (ego, pride, etc) and we finally see that He is there with us.

    Keep the good stuff coming.

    Peace.

  24. Rich, this is some great insight. I’ve done the “I’m the infallible perfect leader” thing (earlier in my life) and it nearly crushed me. The broken and humbled me that came out of that is the one that realized that I needed help. The me since then has discovered that the help I need comes from my dependence on and obedience to God.
    It’s not that God shows up in these times of brokenness. It’s that we stop being blinded by our own stuff (ego, pride, etc) and we finally see that He is there with us.

    Keep the good stuff coming.

    Peace.

  25. I always wanted to be that infallible dude, but wasn’t good enough, Bubba. 😉

  26. I always wanted to be that infallible dude, but wasn’t good enough, Bubba. 😉

  27. I always wanted to be that infallible dude, but wasn’t good enough, Bubba. 😉

  28. I always wanted to be that infallible dude, but wasn’t good enough, Bubba. 😉

  29. ‘its in the weak though that we see Him most, right?’
    Great post Rich and comments. Your thoughts have got me thinking . . .

    I think we experience God’s love, get to know Him in a different way (brokenness vs. times where we are not), but I’m not sure if I’d describe it as ‘most’.

    We see and experience His mercy the most at times of brokenness. I see more clearly the work God is doing in my life when I’m broken and have confessed whatever it is (pride, fear of others, selfishness) to Him and He purifies my heart. The change is dramatic.

    However, as Matt alluded to – I think there are ‘steady’ times in my life. I’m staying in tune with God. He is the source of my strength. Often, the ‘corrections’ that take place require less time to focus back to God as opposed to heightened times of the brokenness. (I hope that doesn’t sound prideful or like I think I’m perfect, cause I’m not, just trying to describe those times when things are going well.)

    Brokenness is a good thing – it allows God to break down the hardness of our hearts and build in its place love, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, joy, self control, gentleness, & faithfulness.

    The steady times are a good thing – God gives us the opportunity to exercise our spiritual strength – the source of which is Him. We also have the opportunity to enjoy knowing Him, loving Him, praising Him in these steady times.

    Difficult times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances.

    Exciting, joyful times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to thank God and join with Him in celebrating.

    I experience (see) God the most, when I am not thinking of myself, but of Him. Perhaps we are inclined to think of the broken times as ‘the most real’ because of where we are before being broken (absorbed in self versue absorbed in God).

    Thanks for the post!

  30. ‘its in the weak though that we see Him most, right?’
    Great post Rich and comments. Your thoughts have got me thinking . . .

    I think we experience God’s love, get to know Him in a different way (brokenness vs. times where we are not), but I’m not sure if I’d describe it as ‘most’.

    We see and experience His mercy the most at times of brokenness. I see more clearly the work God is doing in my life when I’m broken and have confessed whatever it is (pride, fear of others, selfishness) to Him and He purifies my heart. The change is dramatic.

    However, as Matt alluded to – I think there are ‘steady’ times in my life. I’m staying in tune with God. He is the source of my strength. Often, the ‘corrections’ that take place require less time to focus back to God as opposed to heightened times of the brokenness. (I hope that doesn’t sound prideful or like I think I’m perfect, cause I’m not, just trying to describe those times when things are going well.)

    Brokenness is a good thing – it allows God to break down the hardness of our hearts and build in its place love, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, joy, self control, gentleness, & faithfulness.

    The steady times are a good thing – God gives us the opportunity to exercise our spiritual strength – the source of which is Him. We also have the opportunity to enjoy knowing Him, loving Him, praising Him in these steady times.

    Difficult times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances.

    Exciting, joyful times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to thank God and join with Him in celebrating.

    I experience (see) God the most, when I am not thinking of myself, but of Him. Perhaps we are inclined to think of the broken times as ‘the most real’ because of where we are before being broken (absorbed in self versue absorbed in God).

    Thanks for the post!

  31. ‘its in the weak though that we see Him most, right?’
    Great post Rich and comments. Your thoughts have got me thinking . . .

    I think we experience God’s love, get to know Him in a different way (brokenness vs. times where we are not), but I’m not sure if I’d describe it as ‘most’.

    We see and experience His mercy the most at times of brokenness. I see more clearly the work God is doing in my life when I’m broken and have confessed whatever it is (pride, fear of others, selfishness) to Him and He purifies my heart. The change is dramatic.

    However, as Matt alluded to – I think there are ‘steady’ times in my life. I’m staying in tune with God. He is the source of my strength. Often, the ‘corrections’ that take place require less time to focus back to God as opposed to heightened times of the brokenness. (I hope that doesn’t sound prideful or like I think I’m perfect, cause I’m not, just trying to describe those times when things are going well.)

    Brokenness is a good thing – it allows God to break down the hardness of our hearts and build in its place love, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, joy, self control, gentleness, & faithfulness.

    The steady times are a good thing – God gives us the opportunity to exercise our spiritual strength – the source of which is Him. We also have the opportunity to enjoy knowing Him, loving Him, praising Him in these steady times.

    Difficult times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances.

    Exciting, joyful times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to thank God and join with Him in celebrating.

    I experience (see) God the most, when I am not thinking of myself, but of Him. Perhaps we are inclined to think of the broken times as ‘the most real’ because of where we are before being broken (absorbed in self versue absorbed in God).

    Thanks for the post!

  32. ‘its in the weak though that we see Him most, right?’
    Great post Rich and comments. Your thoughts have got me thinking . . .

    I think we experience God’s love, get to know Him in a different way (brokenness vs. times where we are not), but I’m not sure if I’d describe it as ‘most’.

    We see and experience His mercy the most at times of brokenness. I see more clearly the work God is doing in my life when I’m broken and have confessed whatever it is (pride, fear of others, selfishness) to Him and He purifies my heart. The change is dramatic.

    However, as Matt alluded to – I think there are ‘steady’ times in my life. I’m staying in tune with God. He is the source of my strength. Often, the ‘corrections’ that take place require less time to focus back to God as opposed to heightened times of the brokenness. (I hope that doesn’t sound prideful or like I think I’m perfect, cause I’m not, just trying to describe those times when things are going well.)

    Brokenness is a good thing – it allows God to break down the hardness of our hearts and build in its place love, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, joy, self control, gentleness, & faithfulness.

    The steady times are a good thing – God gives us the opportunity to exercise our spiritual strength – the source of which is Him. We also have the opportunity to enjoy knowing Him, loving Him, praising Him in these steady times.

    Difficult times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances.

    Exciting, joyful times are a good thing – it gives us the opportunity to thank God and join with Him in celebrating.

    I experience (see) God the most, when I am not thinking of myself, but of Him. Perhaps we are inclined to think of the broken times as ‘the most real’ because of where we are before being broken (absorbed in self versue absorbed in God).

    Thanks for the post!

  33. 2 Corinthians 2:9
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    This of course is what I am trying to flesh out in this post.

  34. 2 Corinthians 2:9
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    This of course is what I am trying to flesh out in this post.

  35. 2 Corinthians 2:9
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    This of course is what I am trying to flesh out in this post.

  36. 2 Corinthians 2:9
    But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

    This of course is what I am trying to flesh out in this post.

  37. This hits home with me right now. I’m finding myself unexpectedly in a long, dark tunnel with no end in sight. I’ve been in this tunnel before and it wasn’t pleasant but it was necessary and brokenness was definitely the result. I felt like I had been dragged through gravel which scraped off every defense til I was raw and exposed and vulnerable. Not my favorite place to be. I experienced God differently during that time than ever before. He kept me broken and utterly dependent on Him for two years. It was during that time that I began writing songs. Not just little bits and pieces of lyrics, but real words and emotion flowed from my pen. I was in the trenches and felt fully alive and surrendered to God’s will. My current situation has come suddenly,without much warning. Can’t say much about it. Just know that I’m reeling from sudden, unfair, unjust accusations, slander, and injustice. As I’m bracing myself for the storm, I am quickly turning only God for justice and redemption and for the truth to be told. A few months ago I started “randomly” reading through 1 Peter. I read and re-read it. I kept underlining key passages til nearly all of it is now underlined. So much application for me right now. It’s like God prepared me in advance for this re-broken state I find myself in. I know that my prayer life is going to vastly improve. I know that my faith is going to increase. I know that my capacity to love and forgive my enemies is going to grow. I know that God is allowing this trial for His purposes and that He won’t allow me to be destroyed. My weaknesses will definitely perfect God’s power. I am trusting completely in the power of Christ to prevail as He covers me and my brokenness with His grace.

  38. This hits home with me right now. I’m finding myself unexpectedly in a long, dark tunnel with no end in sight. I’ve been in this tunnel before and it wasn’t pleasant but it was necessary and brokenness was definitely the result. I felt like I had been dragged through gravel which scraped off every defense til I was raw and exposed and vulnerable. Not my favorite place to be. I experienced God differently during that time than ever before. He kept me broken and utterly dependent on Him for two years. It was during that time that I began writing songs. Not just little bits and pieces of lyrics, but real words and emotion flowed from my pen. I was in the trenches and felt fully alive and surrendered to God’s will. My current situation has come suddenly,without much warning. Can’t say much about it. Just know that I’m reeling from sudden, unfair, unjust accusations, slander, and injustice. As I’m bracing myself for the storm, I am quickly turning only God for justice and redemption and for the truth to be told. A few months ago I started “randomly” reading through 1 Peter. I read and re-read it. I kept underlining key passages til nearly all of it is now underlined. So much application for me right now. It’s like God prepared me in advance for this re-broken state I find myself in. I know that my prayer life is going to vastly improve. I know that my faith is going to increase. I know that my capacity to love and forgive my enemies is going to grow. I know that God is allowing this trial for His purposes and that He won’t allow me to be destroyed. My weaknesses will definitely perfect God’s power. I am trusting completely in the power of Christ to prevail as He covers me and my brokenness with His grace.

  39. This hits home with me right now. I’m finding myself unexpectedly in a long, dark tunnel with no end in sight. I’ve been in this tunnel before and it wasn’t pleasant but it was necessary and brokenness was definitely the result. I felt like I had been dragged through gravel which scraped off every defense til I was raw and exposed and vulnerable. Not my favorite place to be. I experienced God differently during that time than ever before. He kept me broken and utterly dependent on Him for two years. It was during that time that I began writing songs. Not just little bits and pieces of lyrics, but real words and emotion flowed from my pen. I was in the trenches and felt fully alive and surrendered to God’s will. My current situation has come suddenly,without much warning. Can’t say much about it. Just know that I’m reeling from sudden, unfair, unjust accusations, slander, and injustice. As I’m bracing myself for the storm, I am quickly turning only God for justice and redemption and for the truth to be told. A few months ago I started “randomly” reading through 1 Peter. I read and re-read it. I kept underlining key passages til nearly all of it is now underlined. So much application for me right now. It’s like God prepared me in advance for this re-broken state I find myself in. I know that my prayer life is going to vastly improve. I know that my faith is going to increase. I know that my capacity to love and forgive my enemies is going to grow. I know that God is allowing this trial for His purposes and that He won’t allow me to be destroyed. My weaknesses will definitely perfect God’s power. I am trusting completely in the power of Christ to prevail as He covers me and my brokenness with His grace.

  40. This hits home with me right now. I’m finding myself unexpectedly in a long, dark tunnel with no end in sight. I’ve been in this tunnel before and it wasn’t pleasant but it was necessary and brokenness was definitely the result. I felt like I had been dragged through gravel which scraped off every defense til I was raw and exposed and vulnerable. Not my favorite place to be. I experienced God differently during that time than ever before. He kept me broken and utterly dependent on Him for two years. It was during that time that I began writing songs. Not just little bits and pieces of lyrics, but real words and emotion flowed from my pen. I was in the trenches and felt fully alive and surrendered to God’s will. My current situation has come suddenly,without much warning. Can’t say much about it. Just know that I’m reeling from sudden, unfair, unjust accusations, slander, and injustice. As I’m bracing myself for the storm, I am quickly turning only God for justice and redemption and for the truth to be told. A few months ago I started “randomly” reading through 1 Peter. I read and re-read it. I kept underlining key passages til nearly all of it is now underlined. So much application for me right now. It’s like God prepared me in advance for this re-broken state I find myself in. I know that my prayer life is going to vastly improve. I know that my faith is going to increase. I know that my capacity to love and forgive my enemies is going to grow. I know that God is allowing this trial for His purposes and that He won’t allow me to be destroyed. My weaknesses will definitely perfect God’s power. I am trusting completely in the power of Christ to prevail as He covers me and my brokenness with His grace.

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