I have always admired the quiet leaders such as Tony Dungy and Bud Grant. I loved their stoicism on the sidelines. They never lost their cool and always stayed even keeled regardless if they were winning or losing. I understand we all have different personalities. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves and others you can’t tell if they are ahead by 20 points or down by 20 points.
I have always considered myself a lead by example kind of a guy. I am not a big rah rah get in your face, give me two more reps fitness professional. Don’t get me wrong, I will get the most out of you and push you out of your comfort zone, but I will do it in a way that shows compassion.
I think great leaders use love as our weapon. All of my clients know I deeply care about them as human beings first and foremost. I not only want them to get healthier physically, but spiritually and mentally as well.
In my faith and fitness class I teach at a local church I had a participant who shared with me some real difficult personal issues he was dealing with. We have been able to talk before and after class as he shared some of the personal battles he is going through. I have built trust with this person as he has shared some of his darkest struggles with me.
As I was talking to him after class the other day he shared with me that the only reason he was coming to my class, was because of my leadership and compassion for people. The physical workout was more of a side note. That comment really blew me away. I was simply leading my class and investing my time in listening and getting to know each and every one of my participants. He said he always feels listened to and encouraged.
Whether we know it or not, as leaders, and as in this case as fitness professionals, we can have a huge impact on people’s lives. As faith-centered fitness professionals we can have an even greater impact on transforming people’s lives all for the glory of God.
I have been doing a great deal of praying and meditating lately. The biggest prayer that I have been asking God for is to work in me and through me so people can see the love of Jesus in me. My prayer is that I can be the type of leader that Jesus was.
THREE KEYS TO LEADING LIKE JESUS
First and foremost we have to be spiritually fed ourselves. Matthew 6:33 is one of my favorite verses. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” If we neglect our own quiet time, time in the Word and prayer, we will be spiritually starving ourselves. If we aren’t in a good place spiritually, it will be really challenging to be there to encourage and inspire others.
My morning always start with time in the Word. I don’t care how early I have to get up. Often times it is between 4am-5am. I try to get at least an hour in every morning of prayer and Bible reading, but that doesn’t always happen. Even if you can spend 10 minutes alone with God every morning that will change the trajectory of your day.
The second key is to walk the walk. To lead with integrity. To practice what you preach. Proverbs 10:9 says, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, it means that we have to be honest with people and sometimes be very vulnerable with them. Let people know we don’t have it all figured out, but that we are doing our best. People respect us when we are authentic and real.
The third key is to submit yourself to the Lord. Allow Him to work through you. If you try to lead under your own strength and power, it will only lead to exhaustion and stress overload. Trust me I know. I am really good at that. When I am exhausted and overwhelmed, I know I am trying to do things under my own strength and that never turns out good.
I saw a quote the other day that says, “Your work is to relax and allow. To relax and allow. No matter what.” Doesn’t that take the pressure off of us? Let Jesus work in us and through us. That’s what makes a powerful leader. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” That is such a powerful image and a great one to live by as leaders.
Of course leading like Jesus is no easy task. It takes a great deal of energy, selflessness, compassion and time alone to get our own cup re-filled. But when you realize all of the potential people we can impact through this leadership style, it is worth investing every ounce of ourselves into leading like Jesus.
Imagine the possibilities as fitness professionals if we all moved towards leading like Jesus. Not only would our clients get physically fit, but more importantly they would get more spiritually fit. My prayer is that as leaders we seek first the kingdom of God, lead with integrity and allow God to work through us. The world will be transformed one client at time.
Troy Ismir, MS
Health Coach and Personal Trainer