In the business and professional world, we admire strong and bold leaders. Stakeholders in companies typically look for proud, assertive individuals to head their organizations, whose courage, confidence, and determination seem unshakable. In His “sermon on the mount,” Jesus Christ declared, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5), but corporate boards of directors typically do not want people like that for leadership roles in their companies.
Ironically, brokenness is a quality that often helps to shape the characters of strong leaders – people who have struggled through great adversity, failure, and discouragement, but persevered to come out the other side as more resilient, more humble individuals. Why is brokenness such an advantageous “asset”? Because it helps men and women lead with compassion, sensitivity, and understanding. They perceive their own weakness and shortcomings, which enables them to learn how to trust and rely on members of the team they have assembled around them.
During my early years as editor of a small community newspaper, I was essentially a one-man band, handling most of the writing and reporting, photography, editing and design of each edition. I reported to a publisher, but did most of the editorial work myself, including decision-making. It was a tiresome, often daunting task. As a result, I made more than my share of mistakes.
Later in my newspaper career, I had a full editorial staff and was able to rely on the respective skills and experience of other reporters and editors, delegating responsibilities to them. It was a great relief to collaborate with others and share ideas for creating the best possible product.
During much of his reign, King David of Israel also worked on his own. His people held him in high esteem, remembering his many wartime exploits. He had advisors, but typically relied on his own judgment – sometimes to his great detriment. His success, it seems, went to his head.
In 2 Samuel 11, we find David remaining in Jerusalem while his army and military leaders went off to war. He spotted a stunning woman, Bathsheba, bathing on a nearby rooftop, and reasoned that as king he had the regal right to satisfy his sexual desire for her, leading to a series of dire consequences.
Only when later confronted by the prophet Nathan did King David confess his transgressions and turn to God for forgiveness. Out of David’s repentance came a powerful entry in the Psalms in which he openly acknowledged his wrongdoing and asked the Lord for restoration.
After praying, “according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2), David made a stirring request: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12).
David concluded, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). In our service to the Lord, our broken and contrite hearts also can be pleasing to Him. And as a result, they can make us better, more effective leaders.
© 2022. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart, coauthored with Ken Johnson; and The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com
1. What are qualities that you believe are important for being an effective leader?
2. Why does brokenness seem an unlikely characteristic when considering whether someone of qualified to lead?
3. How would you define brokenness, as it relates to the development of a person’s character? Have you ever known a leader who was truly broken by life’s experiences and struggles, yet seemed stronger because of them? If so, describe this person briefly.
4. Look at the prayer in Psalm 51:10-12 again? Try to express it in your words. What do you think it means to have God create a “clean heart” in someone and “renew a steadfast spirit” in them? Do you think brokenness plays an important role in one’s relationship with the Lord? If so, why?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Psalm 26:3; Proverbs 4:23, 16:2, 17:3, 20:9; John 15:5; Philippians 4:13; Peter 5:5-6