A Leader Must Understand The Difference Between The Ideal And The Real

Feature Article The Art of Leadership By Dag Heward-Mills
JUL 26, 2022 LISTEN
The Art of Leadership By Dag Heward-Mills

BE A leader who understands that there is a difference between what is ideal and what is real. An experienced person usually knows the difference between the ideal and the real. The “ideal” is like the stars of the sky. It tells us where we want to go. The real is what is “on the ground”. It tells us where we really are. Theoretical knowledge will tell you the ideal but experience will tell you what is real.

Young and inexperienced politicians have often come on the political scene with all sorts of idealistic philosophies. Many of such people have so many idealistic and unrealistic leanings. With time and experience, they often realise that things are not as straightforward as they thought. You will often find such people switching ideologies as they see the realities on the ground. There is a difference between the ideal and the real.

The ideal and the real are also seen in the ministry. You may think that if you do certain things you will get certain results. As you mature, you will discover that it is not as simple as that. Church growth principles may be applied, but the church will still not grow. This is because the ideal is different from the real. Experience will teach you that.

It is ideal to live up to seventy years, but I have watched as young pastors have died in the midst of their years. It is ideal for everyone to be healed, but the real is not so. Even Jesus did not try to heal everyone. Experience will make you mature and make you a more capable and able leader.

Dear leader, do not despise the lessons of maturity that you are learning. Do not change your theologies because of your experiences. The Word of God is still true. The fact is that we don't know everything. There is a reason why the real is often different from the ideal. There are often other factors at work that we are not aware of. It is not everything that we know or understand. Paul did not understand everything. He described it as seeing through a dark glass.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1 Corinthians 13:12

Idealism and Delusions

Leadership often requires maturity. Maturity comes from experience. Experiences in life will harden you. Maturity is required for leadership. Maturity drives away delusions and idealism.

Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

1 Timothy 3:6

Have you ever wondered why a presidential candidate must be at least forty years old? By the age of forty, experience would have driven delusions and idealism away. Walk on the road that will harden you and make you more experienced. Learn from each experience you have.

A young leader may not have the benefit of experience. He has to tap into the experiences of others. His only chance of avoiding certain mistakes is to study those who went before him. Older leaders may not have experienced everything and may have to overcome idealism in certain areas by studying other experienced people's lives. This is one of the ways to overcome the idealism caused by inexperience. Draw lessons from other people's lives. Read about people who walked the same path you are walking. Study the history of the course you have chosen for your life. History usually repeats itself. Distinguish between the real and the ideal through experience. Make up for inexperience by studying history.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

Ecclesiastes 1:9,10

As I write this book, I am listening to music by Keith Green. I cannot understand why such a person's life should be cut short at the age of twenty-eight. The passion, zeal and anointing of his music can hardly compare with the watered down Christian music of today. Yet, Keith Green was removed in the midst of his years. He left behind a wife and little children. Do you have an explanation for this? I do not! The secret things belong to the Lord. Be mature!

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 29:29

Dear leader, do not be encumbered by idealism. Don't be discouraged by realities. Understand that what is ideal may not always happen. Do your best under the given circumstances. Understand that there is a difference between the ideal and the real!

Culled from “The Art of Leadership”

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