A Leader Should Have a Window and a Mirror

I recently read Jim Collins’ fantastic little book, How the Mighty Fall. I would highly recommend the book for pastors, leaders, business people, or anyone who wants to learn and grow. Here’s an interesting thought from page 160. The right people display “window and mirror maturity.”

What does he mean? Here are his own words.

When things go well, the right people point out the window, giving credit to factors other than themselves; they shine a light on other people who contributed to success and take little credit themselves. Yet when things go awry, they do not blame circumstances or other people for setbacks and failures; they point in the mirror and say, “I’m responsible.”

This reinforces something that’s been swirling around in my mind for some time. Far too often I have seen pastors or leaders who use the window and the mirror in the wrong way. When things go well, they point to the mirror. When things go poorly, they point out the window.

While Collins’ book is not considered a Christian work, I think he has landed on two very important scriptural principles. 

1. A good leader knows how to deflect praise. Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips.” Good leaders know that when things go right, there are many places where the credit is due. It is foolish for any pastor to think that when things are going well at the church, it’s all because of their ability, intellect, or ingenuity. Good pastors know how to deflect praise. When things go well, praise others and give God glory!

2. A good leader knows how to accept blame. You probalby know the story. It’s recorded in Genesis 3. It’s the story of the “fall” of mankind. Adam and Eve sinned by deliberately disobeying God’s command. God confronted Adam. What was the response? It’s recorded in Genesis 3:12, “Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” Way to go, Adam – blame it on your wife. I wonder how long it took for Eve to get over that one!

You see, it’s natural to want to receive praise and avoid blame. Natural, but wrong. A leader knows how to use the window and the mirror the right way. Next time you find yourself pointing fingers, remember, there are three fingers pointing back at you.