Jesus said: “The second greatest commandment (emphasis mine) is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31) I find it interesting that loving self is used as a measure for loving others. But what does loving yourself look like?
In his book A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Freidman does a good job explaining why this might be the case. In fact the issue of self touches on every single leadership issue discussed his book. Understanding “self” lays the groundwork for the concept of-differentiated leadership and shows how the most critical issues of leadership have to do with the self-differentiation of a parent or a president. These issues include:
The capacity to “go it alone”;
The ability to recognize and extricate oneself from relational binds (emotional triangles);
The folly of trying to will others to change;
The modifying potential of the non-anxious presence;
The ramifying power of endurance in crisis;
The self-regulation necessary for dealing with reactive sabotage; and
The factors in the leader’s own being that make for his or her own stress.
Friedman concludes that “It is only the emergence of self in its leadership that can enable any society, family, institution, or nation to evolve out of a regression.”
I personally found that this book contains life-changing insights and clearly challenges a new generation of leaders. I also thought that his insights on leadership, from parents to presidents, added color and texture to Jesus’ command to love others as you love yourself.
Suspicious of the quick fixes and instant solutions that sweep through our culture only to give way to the next fad, Friedman argues for strength and self-differentiation as the marks of true leadership. [Sounds like Jesus style.] His formula for success is more maturity, not more data [tough pill to swallow]; stamina, not technique [bigger pill to swallow]; and personal responsibility, not empathy [for me, the leadership lights came on at this point]. Friedman’s insights about our regressed, seat belt society, oriented toward safety rather than adventure, help explain the sabotage that leaders constantly face today.
Jesus Christ modeled healthy leadership and faced sabotage. Throughout the gospels we see the curious absence of the need to control others on the one hand or to be controlled by others on the other hand, which seems like healthy leadership. How Jesus behaved throughout his earthly ministry is what Friedman refers to as self-differentiated leadership. Remember when Jesus refused to feed the people? Remember when he let the rich young ruler walk away? Remember when he healed one guy and left all the other sick people laying by the pool? Remember how he could raise the dead, but only did it on three occasions? He seemed OK with allowing others to choose their course. Regardless what others chose, Jesus remained on mission, focused, and, in the words of Friedman, “self-differentiated.”
One more thought: The second greatest commandment follows the first greatest commandment of all which is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Both commandments are essential to healthy leadership for everyone, from parents to presidents. Without the first commandment, human beings are left without the ultimate authority of God. Alright, that’s all for now. Those who do the most in this world are curiously those who live for the next. It doesn’t matter if you are leading a company or a family, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Col 3:23–24).