5 Tolls of Leadership

The cost of leadership isn’t cheap. There are many tolls you must pay. I’ve either paid these five tolls or I’m paying them now. You cannot go around them. You must go through them, pay the fee, and drive on. Staying back to negotiate the cost is a poor use of your time. Pay the toll and move on!

1.     Toll of Being Misunderstood. You can work hard to be all things for all people, but they will always find something to convict you. They will work hard to find evidence to validate their claims against. Their objective is to find fault in you. You become their whipping post; their target; their idol. Critics need a large enough target to aim at to fire their hate-filled shots. For many, YOU ARE THE TARGET! Let them fire at will, but resist the urge to fire back. The childish and immature look for someone or something to blame. Like children pointing blame at their parents, they will point it at you to deflect the attention away from their actions or lack thereof. Giving them a stage will make them think it's okay for them to perform. And as a father of two young children, trust me when I tell you that you don't want to sit in the audience of a drama-filled tirade. Your time and focus is best spent elsewhere. You can either focus on the critics or continue helping others. I choose the latter. It takes thick skin to lead. Many of them believe they could do your job much better than you. You cannot focus your valuable time and energy trying to prove or validate yourself to them. You must realize that you will be misunderstood. You will never be enough to them, and what you do will never be enough to please them. THAT CANNOT BE YOUR FOCUS! You must remain faithful to the calling you’ve been given and the people you are called to serve. And you must never forget that you cannot truly serve people if you’re in bondage to how they feel about you. Feelings are fickle! They change like the wind. Those who like you today will hate you tomorrow. You must mature above their ability to move you. Pay the toll of being misunderstood and move on.

2.     Toll of Sacrifice. To sacrifice is an act of love. Jesus became the sacrifice we needed for salvation. He is sufficient. We need nothing or no one else. I want you to think of a sacrifice as if it was an offering you’re surrendering for the betterment of someone else. Oftentimes the main thing you’re sacrificing is your time. As a leader you must be willing to sacrifice your time and energy for the betterment of others. You must be willing to put your plans to the side when duty calls. This is my reality as a pastor. I’m on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have a wife and two children. I also host several annual retreats and conferences, lead several businesses, and run a non-profit organization that’s focused on empowering men. I’ve had to sacrifice my time, money, and energy. I've had to go without sleep and food. It's the price we pay. This is a toll you’ll have to pay daily. Pay it and move on.

3.     Toll of Teaching. This is a toll many don’t realize they must pay, but it’s one of the most important of them all. Teaching others makes sure the information and legacy lives on from generation to generation. Throughout history traditions were passed down orally from generation to generation. They knew the importance of teaching the younger ones so the information and legacy would live on. A failure to teach is a dangerous mistake. Recognize those that want to learn and teach them. I know that I’m not effective as a leader until I have taught and trained others. Without successors the organization is destined to crumble. Develop a strong teaching plan, and do not abandon it. Some will fall away. That's fine! Just fill the gap, keep teaching, and move on.

4.     Toll of Standing Alone. This is an expensive toll to pay. It’s one that challenges you mentally and emotionally. God created us as relational people. Many aspects of life are centered around relationships like our relationship with Christ, our relationship with others, marriage, parenthood, mentorship, and so forth. Relationships are important, but there comes a time when you must stand alone! I’ve had to pay this toll several times. It’s when those around you abandon you. Even the Apostle Paul dealt with this when he stood before his accusers alone. There will come a time when you will stand alone without the support of those around you. Although this toll is costly, it teaches you to truly trust in the Lord. Pay it and move on.

5.     Toll of Being Focused. Distractions are everywhere. I’ve seen some of the most skilled leaders leave their posts because of the distractions around them. Oftentimes we as leaders are tempted to take on more than we can carry. We try to pick it up the slack of the idle while being weighed down by our own responsibilities. Being focused requires you to discover your strengths and operate in them while continuing to staff your weaknesses. My time is valuable, so I’m willing to delegate certain tasks to others so I’m able to remain focused. The inability to keep your priorities and remain on task can cost you more than what you’re willing to pay. While driving in Puerto Rico I went through the same poll three times. There was a side street I was supposed to exit off, but I missed it each time because I wasn’t focused. I paid that toll more than I should have. My prayer is that you remain focused so you don’t pay it more than you should.

Pay the tolls and move on! There's work to do.


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