Leaders Embrace Their Limitations

by Joel Rishel | Aug 11, 2023 | Leadership

Leaders are respected, looked up to, even imitated—and in many ways, appropriately so. Why? Because leaders are experts in their field. Leaders have experience under their belt. Leaders bring wisdom, discernment, and balance to the table as they exercise their God-given gifts.

But there is a built-in challenge that come with the territory. Leaders can begin to feel like they are experts on everything. Leaders can project an image of invincibility. Leaders can start to rely solely on their own instincts, because they assume they are always right.

Of course, we know better. We know that only God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, and perfectly right in every situation. And we know that we are not God, even though we have been created by God with a unique blend of gifts that positions us for the assignments God has prepared for our lives and callings. However, as we begin to use these gifts, and as people begin to follow us, we might be tempted to hide our faults and cover up our weaknesses, thinking that people will be more impressed and better served when we project an untarnished and indestructible image.

The thing is—it doesn’t work that way. People actually respond to humble leaders, and one of the traits of great leaders is that they embrace their limitations.

In lots of ways this is counterintuitive and countercultural. We hear all the time that we can break through every limitation, and we can be whatever we want to be. But deep down we know the world just does not work that way. We can strap wings to an elephant, but it will never fly.

There is, of course, a place for pushing ourselves, stretching our perceived limits, and tackling the seemingly impossible. But we also know that there are limitations, and God’s good plan is within these limits. Embracing these limitations is actually a good thing, because it moves us toward achieving our full potential.

Here are some practical ways that you can embrace your limitations.

  1. Take Time Off

    The rhythms of life remind you that you are not all-powerful. You pause to eat food because your body needs sustenance. Every night you lie down to sleep because your body needs rest. Likewise, you should take breaks from your work and schedule weekends off. No one can run at 300 percent. All. The. Time.

  2. Admit When You Don’t Know Something

    This is a matter of integrity. If you don’t know the answer, don’t pretend like you do. Even if it is something in your field or area of expertise, it is okay to say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I will look into it and get back to you,” and then diligently research and grow your knowledge base. But it is not healthy for you, or anyone around you, when you attempt to create the impression that your knowledge is more than it is. No one can be the expert on everything.

  3. Surround Yourself with a Team

    Create contexts where you are functioning with a team and develop the art of listening to others. This demonstrates your acknowledgment that no one person has all the skills, all the answers, all the strength. Collaboration is the seedbed of new ideas, increased productivity, varied perspectives, and innovative solutions. You really can do more together.

  4. Cultivate a Culture of Evaluation

    It is perfectly fine—and healthy—to look at something you have done and say, “That was good, but it could have been better.” If the goal is to improve, you need to cultivate a culture of evaluation. Regularly conducting a SWOT analysis reveals the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in your work, throughout your organization, and among your resources. Make sure you are approachable, ask lots of questions, and respond humbly whenever someone points out a potential blind spot.

Jesse Masson has observed in a Lifeway Research article, “A strong leader is not one who is limitless (or without vulnerabilities). Rather, a strong leader is one who recognizes and functions within his limitations—a leader who can embrace his limitations.”

Or, as the Apostle Paul said it centuries ago, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Let the team at Infinity Concepts help you with leadership strategy and development as you take your organization to the next level. CLICK HERE to explore how we can help you!

Joel Rishel

Stay Informed!

Join thousands of subscribers who love our content! Subscribe for the latest insights.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.