Epic is About… Integrity & Nerve

In the following nine blog posts, we will attempt to articulate “nine elements of a leadership reproduction culture.”  For more explanation, see our first post here.  Feedback and questions are more than welcome!

On the road to fruitfulness in its mission, Epic is about… Integrity & Nerve

By Adrian Pei

What does it look like to be a leader others can trust?  What is your picture of a courageous leader? 

As we seek to lead in our mission, we will face adversity that’s far more serious than external obstacles to our objectives or tasks.  We will face challenges that test our core identity and character (integrity), and our courage and resolve (nerve).

In all areas of life, including in our leadership, we are constantly being influenced and formed by the push and pull of various pressures.  Some are forces of conformity, that either overtly or covertly pressure us to adopt the behavior around us — whether it’s performing to a certain standard, or having a certain attitude or demeanor.  Some are forces of compliance, that pressure us to compromise what we believe, out of fear of what others might think.

These pressures are inevitable, but how we respond to them is our choice.  To have integrity and nerve is to possess a stronger determination in who we are, and what we stand for, which doesn’t allow ourselves to be defined entirely by the environments surrounding us.  It means being able to lead out of core values over the long haul, without getting lost in tasks and the “urgent.”  It’s a holistic maturity that allows us to have consistency in what we bring to different contexts.  That’s the makeup of a leader who can be trusted.

Nerve is not about bull-headed inflexibility, that clings to one view or approach at all costs.  It’s not about “powering up” on people and stating “this is the way things are going to be.”  Having integrity and nerve means having the maturity to work and partner with others who disagree and are different from us, without losing our sense of self and worth in the process.  These are the kind of leaders who are secure enough in who they are, that they can handle challenge and criticism with humility and grace.

Integrity and nerve does not mean putting on a facade of “unshakeable” strength: the kind hesitant to admit fears, doubts, grief, or any negativity.  They’re not about disengaging from the messy realities of living in community, or disconnecting from environments of pressure — some of which can be quite dark and sobering — but having the courage to lead in the midst of them.  These are the kind of leaders who can be trusted to not minimize painful realities, that people need to acknowledge and address, in order to reach God’s fullest vision for their leadership and mission.

As we wrestle to meet the demands of reality, we will have to honestly acknowledge how our own degree of maturity and integrity impacts those around us.  It takes courageous resolve to live and lead with integrity.  It means pain, struggle, and humility among other things.  But that is the price of spiritual leadership.  But through it all, we find hope in Christ Himself, who did not fold or compromise who He was in the face of unspeakable opposition.  He endured with courageous resolve, for the sake of His mission — which was each one of us.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is your picture of a courageous leader?  How are characteristics of courage from secular culture different from characteristics of courage as described in the post above?
  • The post mentions pressures of conformity (adopting to the behavior or environment around you) and compliance (compromising out of fear or anxiety).  What kinds of pressure most affect your leadership?
  • How might a lack of integrity and nerve, as described above, compromise or inhibit our mission?  Be specific about how this plays out in your culture and context.