C.J. Mahaney recently interview Carl Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, on his blog (see part 1 and part 2). In the second part of the interview, Mahaney asked Trueman, “What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?” Trueman’s response is worth noting:
(a) Pick your battles. Not every hill is worth dying on; and not every battle is something you are competent to fight. As a younger man, I wanted to fight all comers and win every battle. Neither necessary nor possible.
(b) Be part of a team who care for you and whom you trust to tell you when you are going the wrong way or crossing a line that should not be crossed—and listen to them. Yes-men are fatal to good leadership. A trustworthy colleague who is prepared to oppose you to your face is worth his weight in gold.
(c) Understand that leadership is lonely; being liked by everyone is a luxury you probably cannot afford. Deal with it and get on with the job. If you want to be liked, be a circus clown; if you want to lead and lead well, be prepared for the loneliness that comes with it. This is why, for me, a happy home has been crucial for it has been a place where work is, as far as possible, kept far away. Home is the one place I can go each night and know that I am loved, and I guard it fiercely. I have even banned my kids from Googling my name—if there is nasty stuff out there about me, I deal with it at work; I do not allow it into my house.
(d) Don’t waste time defending your own name for the sake of it. If Christ’s honour is at stake, or the innocent are made vulnerable by some attack on your character, you need to respond; otherwise, let it be. If I responded to every wannabe crank who thinks I’m arrogant, hypocritical, lying etc. etc., I’d never have the time to do anything else. The secret is not caring about your own name except as it impacts upon others.