My Identity = My Leadership
Today, nonprofit organizations have to try twice as hard to rebuild their communities and create a positive environment where people feel a sense of belonging. Although the world has shifted drastically, the basics are still the same. Christian nonprofit organizations try too hard to have the latest gimmicks to create a community and neglect the basics of what makes a community: the people.
Although the world has shifted drastically, the basics are still the same.
The flashy light shows, latest products, or the most famous artists are ways to get a person's attention, but building a community means that there must be a shared value. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary community is "a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society."
For a Christian nonprofit organization, God should be the center of its core in all aspects. However, one area that organizations fall short of is recognizing individual identity, and how it impacts their leadership.
What does your identity say about your leadership?
Since childhood, I have worked and volunteered with Christian nonprofit organizations promoting the importance of the gospel, however teaching the importance of identity in conjunction with biblical leadership was lacking for most. James 1:6-8 describes a person as double-minded because they are inconsistent with what they believe. This causes discrepancy rather than creating community within your organization. The same goes for leadership. If one identifies with things that are not biblically true, it will result in inconsistent practices and bleed through every area of one's life.
For a moment, let us think of a leader who externally portrays strength, love, and compassion, yet their self-identity is poor or toxic. Subconsciously or intentionally, their actions may bring destruction to others and create divides in the organization's community which they are fervently trying to build. This leader may believe these results are from others rather than asking, "am I consistent in all areas?"
Further self-evaluation may include:
- Do I respect myself and others?
- Am I genuinely kind to myself and others?
- Have I set healthy boundaries while honoring others?
- Do I respect when others say "no"?
Have I set healthy boundaries while honoring others?
Reflecting on such questions may assist in understanding how knowing yourself is essential to enhancing the lives of others. It is effortless to place identity in status, people, products, and projects. The danger is that when your identity is not rooted in God, you could create unrealistic expectations or religious beliefs within yourself and others. With this in mind, reflect on the question, how do you lead your team? Are your "knee-jerk" reactions rooted in fear and discomfort? Or does your instruction reflect being grounded in Proverbs 3:5-6?
To build a community starts with understanding your identity and measuring it to the biblical truths of leadership, rather than to unattainable religious expectations.
Jesus said that you must love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39); this is the greatest commandment, and yet one must ask: how can you love others if you cannot love yourself?
Many of us suffer from the imposter syndrome, and we try to live up to an unrealistic measurement of success in leadership rather than an attainable biblical measurement of leadership. There are various false teachings of leadership, and the best way to measure if a belief is true is to compare it to the Bible. For example, some people believe that a leader never makes mistakes, but the Bible is full of leaders who missed the mark, repented, and overcame challenges.
James 1:5 states, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
Growing in your leadership skills also means investing time in knowing how God sees you according to his biblical truths. With an identity rooted in his principles, one can positively impact others and build a community of leaders who have a shared sense of belonging.
A leader's identity impacts how the community responds to them, as if they are "one of us, doing it for us, making us matter, crafting a sense of us, and so much more," according to Rolf Van Dick, and others in “Identity leadership going global: Validation of the identity leadership inventory across 20 countries” (Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology; Vol. 91, Dec. 2018).
While overcoming a global pandemic has brought great division, maintaining an authentic connection with God, yourself, and others are the foundation for building your organization's future.
Dr. Kayon Cameron is an author and consultant to profit and nonprofit organizations. Her background expanse to project management, strategic leadership, and hospitality. Her passion is fostering leadership development, empowering others in achieving their goals, while living a life for Christ.