Insights on Leadership

Written by Chris Mayberry- Middle School Assistant Principal- 16th year in education

So I have to admit that I am feeling a little on in years.  I am about to turn 40.  It seems hard to believe that I have been in education for 16 years, and married to my amazing wife Becky for 16 years, and have 4 great children (Cole 11, Ansley 10, Luke 7, and Kallie 4).  All these things point to the fact that I am growing older.  In August I will hit what many believe to be a milestone birthday.  Some see this 40th birthday as a negative, I choose to see it as a positive.  I choose the positive route because I feel that the wisdom that the Lord has taught me over these years beyond a college degree and learning at the master’s level has been far more education in leadership then all my formal education combined.  Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the Lord is instruction and wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”  I realize that the Lord has the wisdom to share with me and I must humble to hear and apply these lessons to the areas I lead.  So here are 3 areas that I am not close to arriving in but am growing in my leadership.

My first insight is that family will be first for me.  This is where leadership is the toughest.  Often times it is easier to lead outside the home.  Aside from my daily walking with Jesus and trying to attain earth as it is in heaven, my wife and children are my main calling.  Extended family is meaningful as well.  My example to learn from is my mother in love, Becky’s mother, Dale Blackmon.  Not only did she care for  her late husband Harry in a long battle with cancer, she also took her husband’s parents into her home as they were ailing.  Grandpa Hill or Papa Hill as we know him has since gone to be with the Lord and Dale is still caring for Granny Kay.  The sacrifice to love deeply in the midst of struggle, cancer, and even death has been a tremendous example to truly show Christ’s love even when it cost’s greatly.  As my great friend Jimmy Knott has challenged me to do, I would encourage all of us to ask daily, “what can I do to serve you” to your wife and children and those you are close with.

My second insight is to try new things.   Not sure if every one knows that I coach boy’s basketball but a few years ago, I changed my entire offensive coaching philosophy.  The reason for my change was control.  Early in my coaching career I wanted to have total control.   I wanted control of everything on the court, so I ran offenses that had very predictable outcomes.  I would always know who messed up and could hold those players accountable.  What I found was that not only was it not very fun for the players, but when we got to the playoffs other teams would know exactly what was coming next.  It was super hard to change because I adopted an offense that teaches the players to read and then react to the defense.  Giving up control was the best thing for me to do to help my players learn the game of basketball and have a lot more fun playing the game.

And last- replace and renew habits. Fifteen years ago there was no such thing as Facebook, Twitter, or social media in general.  Somehow we have incorporated these things into our daily lives.  Habits have changed and continue to change all the time due to new things that we are bringing into our lives.  Some of these habits help us, but some also take us away from face to face interaction with others.  I will use myself as an example of a habit being destructive.  For quite a while I was being asked by my wife to lessen and change my use of Twitter.  My habit was to come home and go up to my room and unwind while checking my twitter feed.  I justified this time as we all do when we know a habit needs to go.  I thought I deserved to unwind and rest but at what cost.  My wife needed me to help with the kids and with dinner and I was wasting time and not serving my wife and family.  Through my wife, the Lord showed me that although Twitter was not a bad thing, I was trading time with my family for time online catching up on news and other not so important things.

I am still growing in these and other leadership habits.  I am trying daily to make a name for Jesus Christ by loving my wife and children, by trying new things, and by replacing and renewing my habits.  Leading myself first is the key to leading others as an assistant principal, a basketball coach, and most importantly a husband and father.