In “Generation to Generation,” Edwin Friedman gives this definition of a leader: “A self-defined person with a non-anxious presence.”

“Self-defined” does not mean workaholic. The mature leader takes full responsibility for her well-being and destiny. Like Jesus, she trusts the Father’s goodness, love, and sovereign plan. She does not look to other people or for her circumstances to define her. Responsible for her own being and destiny, she lives responsibly—even amid a culture that promotes irresponsibility.

Consider Jesus’ practice of withdrawing from the press of people and the demands of ministry to commune with the Father, get perspective, and to sleep. Responsible for his own being and destiny, Jesus chose to get away from those who desperately needed him: those he could have healed, delivered, taught, and built a bigger, stronger, more powerful ministry around. Why?

Maybe Jesus understood that more than skill, technique, or knowledge, courageous leadership is, most of all, about the presence of the leader as he moves through life. To presence himself well with people, Jesus recognized that a vital relationship with the Father, clarity, perspective, and attending to his very appropriate, very human need for rest and refreshing were necessary. Self-definition, like Jesus modeled for us, was the result of his commitment to maturity.

How’s yours?

–Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at


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