Humpty Dumpty Leadership

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again

Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken

I don’t know how old I was when I learned about Humpty Dumpty.  Maybe my brain came pre-wired with this ditty on it, since it’s been a part of my memory for so long.  I guess my mother taught it to me, and we probably laughed at poor Humpty Dumpty the way a little boy and his mother laugh at silly nursery rhymes.

But Humpty Dumpty is no laughing matter, certainly not to him.  After all, he’s helplessly broken in pieces and no one, not even the most clever of all, the king’s finest, can put him back together.

Humpty Dumpty, of course, is a make believe character.  We don’t even know what he was.  A person?  An egg?  Who knows?  Yet there’s a point to Humpty Dumpty.  In life some things, important things, get broken, and they can’t get put back together again, not by the most clever people.  Like leadership, for example.

Leadership is broken, and nothing we do can put it back together again.  We certainly are trying to fix it, but we all know the fixes aren’t working. Instead, the fixes only break it more.

Why is it that talent, experience, and success can’t put leadership back together again?  That’s what’s supposed to work.  We can’t have leadership without talent, can we?  And we need experience to be effective leaders, don’t we?  And who wants an unsuccessful leader?  Anybody?  But when we look around we see leaders who are trained in the best schools, who have held the highest positions, who look successful, yet we lack leadership.  Why?  What’s the missing component?

The heart.  When it comes to leadership, the heart of the leader is the heart of the matter.

The heart is the missing component, and few of us know how to take a heart that has been broken and bring it to a place of wholeness, primarily because so many of us do everything we can to avoid the pain and struggle of brokenness.  Most of us don’t realize that we can only have whole leadership through broken leaders.

That’s what Jesus is about in our lives.  He works through our talents and experience to bring us into the success of brokenness—even though brokenness hardly looks successful—so He can bring us into the completeness of wholeness.  This is why we pay so much attention to the cross.  The cross is the power of brokenness, the source of wholeness.

Stop fighting the Lord.  Stop striving for power, success, and control.  Lay down your crown and take up your cross and you will discover a wholeness through brokenness that will put you back together and deliver you from Humpty Dumpty leadership.

Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.