Creative Leadership

Why Being is More Important Than Doing

In the Christian community, the last generation of leaders has often been called the “builder generation.” These were men and women who accomplished great things – including founding universities, launching massive media networks, and building ministries with a global outreach. They were great “doers.” The problem was, far too often they weren’t so good at “being.”

Some of those same leaders who accomplished so much for the Kingdom of God were also closet alcoholics, others were absent fathers, many had raging egos, some were tyrants in the workplace, and still others committed adultery which virtually destroyed their families. On the surface, they were remarkable leaders, but inside, they deeply struggled.

Throughout the Bible, it’s interesting that before the Lord calls us to “Do” he calls us to “Be.” The scriptures remark about the righteousness of men like Abraham and Noah before it tells the stories of what they accomplished. Certainly they stumbled from time to time – we all do that – but their primary concern wasn’t accomplishment, it was their relationship with God.

I know from my own family experience my father’s generation often found their identity in what they did, rather than who they were. My father was a great pastor, but in his later years was forced to step down from the pulpit because of a stroke and heart problems, and he literally wanted to die. He told me that since he couldn’t preach anymore, then what was the point of living? He rarely thought of himself as a father or husband – only as a pastor.

The lesson?

Who you are is far more important in the eyes of God than what you accomplish.

We all want to achieve things with our lives, but if we’re not careful, we’ll be tempted to sacrifice who we are for what we could achieve. Jesus said: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Accomplish great things. But don’t lose yourself in the process.

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  1. Really great post Phil. I hope it actually gains the traction that it deserves. Lately I’ve heard this same discussion framed with the phrase: “PRODUCTIVITY above PEOPLE.” Which this idea unfortunately leaves out PIETY. We should never assume PIETY, it’s always first. People second, Productivity third. Our modern mentality has this completely reversed. Yes, generational perspective is completely relevant, and part of this discussion. This is a VERY important topic, and we should definitely continue this discussion. ON these two commands hang all the law. KNOW/Love Elohim/God, and then you can love others, (with the productivity of 30/60/100)… Matt

  2. A most excellent post (to quote Bill & Ted). Sad that your father lost his identity when he could no longer do that to which he was associated. I want to be known for who I am rather than what I do.

  3. Love this. I only hope that those who need to hear and heed this will do just that. So many actually get (or got) their identities from their ‘Christian work’. Many worked FOR their identities and not FROM them. Our generation needs to hear this – and heal from their anger towards those who did this and affected their lives. Lord help us not to repeat those things that were done by those leaders who went before us – who put their ministries before their families – actually believing they were honouring God. Bring healing to the victims everywhere who missed having intimacy with their families because they were too busy ‘ministering’ to others. Thank you God – for your grace!

  4. In the ‘I DO’ sentence the ‘I’ comes before the ‘DO’. If ‘DO’ comes first, it becomes ‘DO I?’. Then we start questioning everything and are secure about nothing.

    I love my kids. Not because of what they do or do not do. I enjoy them for who they are. They give me joy simply when I watch them sleep or just thinking of them. They are gooood and they are mine!

    Both, prodigal son and his brother evaluated their worth and what they can get out of life based on what they did. But father evaluated them for who they were to him and gave them everything because they were sons.

    Before Jesus started doing the works of the Father, He heard from above, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!”. A person like that is very hard to tempt and cannot fail; He is already full and is not lacking any thing – He knows TO WHOM HE BELONGS and WHO HE IS. He knows he will win the race of life (doing) before he starts running.

  5. Phil, I am sorry for any pain that goes along with what you said about your father, rarely thinking of himself as a father or husband, but only a pastor. When I was growing up my dad mentally and emotionally abused me. He would promise to spend the day with me but instead go to his friend’s house across the street. After drinking all day he would come home and say things that were hurtful and he shouldn’t have said. He broke many promises.

    I didn’t receive a lot of guidance in some areas from my father that I would have liked to have received. If Donald Trump was my father I would probably be a successful businessman and able to hang out at the White House any time I wanted to. If Billy Graham was my father I may be the president and CEO of a relief organization that help an enormous amount of people around the world.

    My father didn’t mean to hurt me and he was a truly great man in many ways. I was abused by a man who loved me more than life itself. My father cared about people and really would give them the shirt off his back. The things I did gain from my dad molded me in part to who I am today. God gave me my father and I wouldn’t trade him for any father who ever lived.

    Phil, if it wasn’t for your father, it is possible, we would not even know who you are. I thank God for your father.

    When people used to ask me what my favorite verse was I would say II Timothy 3:16 because that covers everything. Then I became reacquainted with Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. I thought, WOW can I say that? I realized that to be able to say that you have to know what to live is Christ means. I will be growing in my realization of that for the rest of my life.

    The verses that seem more relevant to your blog come after this verse. Philippians 1:22 “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

    Reading these verses made me think, who is it necessary for me to remain in this body for? As I thought about it I realized that even though Paul was talking to the Philippians he wasn’t at the end of his life and he went on to write more letters. So, it wasn’t just necessary for him to remain in his body for the Philippians. It was necessary for him to remain in his body for you and me, so we would be able to read what he went on to write.

    I realized that it is not just one group of people we see as our ministry that it is necessary to remain in our body for but it can be family, friends, people we work with and just people we may come across. I think it is important for a person to have at least one group of people they can identify as necessary to remain in this body for. Even if they don’t, the most important thing a person can do for another person is pray for them.

    I have walked with people who have had to let go of things that are dear to them. It is hard to let go of things that have been a big part of your life for a long time. Some I have walked with as they watched the light get dimmer and dimmer on their life until they went to be with the Lord.

    I’m sorry if it seemed like you dad was singly focused about who it was necessary to remain in his body for. It must have been hard for your father. I think sometimes when people are going through something drastic they may say things that come from the pain they are experiencing. He probably didn’t realize what he said could be hurtful. I’m sorry however this may have been hard for you.


  6. I was reading through the passage in 2 Samuel describing Davids mighty men the 3 the thirty etc. All gained recognition through accomplishment. The male species seem to be wired for recognition and respect and they realize that they live in a world where that is granted by accomplishment. Otherwise, nothing would get done! These are obviously not the only reason men do things but those two are major drivers. Thankfully a kingdom mindset starts with being ‘accepted in the beloved’ empowering us to live out of what Gods says about us and then accomplishment can be balanced by relational priorities.

  7. Pingback: Be Who You Are
  8. Love this article and BTW would simply add…those who the world saw as leaders were not really leaders at all according to Jesus…if you want to be out in front, you have to go to the back of the line. If you want to love and lead, you have to wash feet. This is the only “leadership” that God revealed in Christ and His Word and recognizes as True Authority! While He is gracious to use us when we say or do the right things but don’t live them out (reference the list in paragraph to of your article), He desires real relational leaders that begin in the home (even those who are not married learn to lead relationally in love/humility/servant’s heart), move into His Family and then out into the world…Matthew 20:24-28; John 13:1-17; 1 Tim 3:4-5. This requires being before ever doing! Thanks and have a great day in the Lord!

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