Are You Taking The Low Seat?

Take the low seat at the table until God makes it impossible to do otherwise.
— Francis Schaeffer

Part of the culture of a Kingdom-minded business is for the leaders to live in a constant posture of excavation.  To be constantly digging for the deeper truth… for God’s highest and best.  And that isn’t just in regards to the organizational processes, procedures, and best practices.  In fact, it is primarily an excavation of the heart, mind, will, and motives of leadership.

Focusing on the problems and solutions of the organization is far simpler (and certainly more comfortable) than digging into their leadership source.  For whether it is our families or the teams of people we lead at work, our leadership dictates the behaviors, successes, and dysfunctions of the folks we lead.

We regularly permission our leaders, both young and old, to have opportunities for leadership development and personal transformation.  We have gifted them with:

Most recently at a Chick-fil-A Leadercast, I heard some disruptive information about leadership.  Some might even call it un-American.  Rather than…

  • Take charge
  • Make it happen
  • Taking the bull by the horns
  • Etc.

One speaker, Andy Stanley, pointed toward a different position entirely.  He said that great leadership was found in a posture of submission or taking the low seat at the table rather than grabbing the throne.  He offered a few suggestions that have been rattling around in my head ever since I heard them on Friday.

  1. Get in the habit of making as few decisions as possible.  Never make a decision that someone else is capable of making.  Simply tell others in your organization, “You decide.”
  2. Get in the habit of working for your team instead of having them work for you.  Simply ask, “What can I do to help you?”  In other words, what can you do with your power and authority to best help them do what they are required to do.  He regularly asks his leaders to e-mail him the 1 or 2 things he could best do to help them succeed.
  3. Get in the habit of finding ways to fill their cup.    While we aren’t responsible for filling their cups and couldn’t fully do so even if we tried, we need to spend our time finding unique and consistent ways to empty our cups into theirs.  (If you’ve been in leadership for very long, you’ve had to come to the realization that some people’s cups are so broken that you can’t pour fast enough to keep them filled.)  What knowledge, experience, encouragement, or authority can we pour into them?
If your leadership is not all about you, it will live beyond you.
— Andy Stanley

In a world where narcissism reigns supreme.  Where personal value is determined by how many “likes” we’ve received from our latest selfie (follow the link to Oxford DIctionary’s Word of the Year for 2013).  Isn’t it refreshing (even revolutionary) to serve a gospel of taking the low seat, feet washing, and selflessly advancing others?

Jesus spent the last few crucial years of his earthly ministry pouring into a group of seemingly incapable chuckleheads.  He emptied His cup into them so that they could advance the Kingdom of God here of earth.  He took a group of men likely less capable than the current leadership of our organizations and handed over a mission far more important than anything we are doing.  I am little embarrassed by how hard I find it is to do the same.

  1. Are you taking the low seat?
  2. Are you making increasingly less decisions for members of your team or family as they mature?
  3. Are you working for others and focusing on how to empty your cup into them?