3 John 1:4 “Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my children live in the truth.” Love, Mom and Dad
Victoria L. Hebb, RN, BSN
Within a clinic or unit, leadership sets the tone and example for nursing staff and other members of the staff. If an establishment does not have professional leadership, morale can drop, dysfunction and frustration may exist within the team, and teamwork and staff satisfaction can decline. This article looks at how those in nursing leadership positions can incorporate how God calls us to lead and how to take that understanding and practice professionalism. Professionalism includes, but is not limited to, actions, speech, and communication of an individual.
I have not been a nurse for very long, but I have been in nursing long enough to realize there is a great impact on a team, unit, or clinic created by the type of leadership that is in place. I am currently in a Leadership and Administration Master’s Program, and I have been exposed to many different types of leadership styles over the past few years. I have been able to come beside incredible mentors in the nursing profession who have shown me how true leaders are to act, to speak, and how to lead professionally. I have also, unfortunately, seen how a leader should not behave, how a leader should not speak, and how negative leadership within a facility can decrease morale, create frustration among staff, and lead to a negative experience within the nursing profession. I feel that my life experiences within the past few years have created a passion within me to be a leader who stands out, a leader who wants to positively impact the profession of nursing, and a leader who desires to create an environment where a team can succeed and thrive! I feel I have been called by God to be a leader within the nursing profession and God says in 1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT) “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
With my past experiences, sometimes negative and sometimes positive, it inspired me to really dive in and research how a leader and professional is supposed to conduct themselves. With this being said, the one leader in my life who never fails me is God. He is the ultimate leader, and is the ultimate example of a leader. Proverb 11:14 (MSG) states, “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” So, how does God call us to act and behave as a leader?
Romans 12:1-2 (MSG) is a perfect example of how God expects us to act as a leader. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” God literally tells us to give our lives, the ordinary, and our jobs to Him! He says to not become so immersed within the culture of those around us that we just “fit in”, He wants us to stand out, to recognize what He wants for our lives, and He will develop maturity within us, that I believe, will create an outstanding leader.
Proverbs 16:18 simply explains how when you are prideful it leads to destruction, “First pride, then the crash – the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” Being humble within leadership, but also confident, will lead to success within leadership. Remembering where you came from, where you started from, will often help to remain humble. Everyone has once been a position where feeling vulnerable or insecure, having empathy for those feeling that way and showing compassion for those individuals is a wonderful leadership quality.
I have been in situations where negative speech, or inappropriate speech, has created negativity and low morale. Ephesians 4:29 reminds us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” God is telling us that we are to only speak if it is going to build others up, or help others. This can be hard within leadership because sometimes a leader has to settle conflict, or talk about difficult situations with staff, but it is at that time where professional conversations and constructive criticism can come into play.
The ultimate example in the Bible where professionalism and appropriate behavior was displayed, is Jesus’ life. Jesus was born to a humble family, but He knew that He had a purpose in His life, to change the world. He grew up learning all He could about the culture He lived in. He always showed kindness to each person He came in contact with. Jesus always spoke truth when addressing those He was speaking with, but did it in a kind and compassionate manner. Jesus helped all of those He could, even those He called the least of these. Jesus’ ultimate example was His journey to the cross. Jesus knew He was going to be crucified, when He knew the time was upon Him, He decided to pray on the Mount of Olives the night before. He prayed for God to give Him strength to do the right thing, He also had his friends, the disciples, praying for Him. The time came on the Mount of Olives that the Roman soldiers arrested Jesus. The disciples defended Jesus and acted with violence, but Jesus stood his ground and commanded the violence to cease. He even healed a man who was coming to arrest Him, showing compassion to His enemies. After this event, Jesus stood trial before Pilot, the Roman governor. During his arrest and questioning, He maintained a calm and professional attitude, and stood for what He knew was truth, but not becoming angry or defensive. Even Pilot stated that Jesus was not a criminal, but the council demanded Jesus to be crucified, and the people of the city shouted “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”. Even after they led Jesus to the place called The Skull, nailed Him to a cross, and mocked and spat at Him, Jesus cried out, “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing”. Jesus knew that even though this ultimate act of sacrifice, giving His life for the world, was excruciating; He knew it was worth it to make a difference in the world. He knew that glory and hope was on the other side!
What an amazing example of how we are to live! In 1 John 2:6 (NLT) it says, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” So much can be learned from the way Jesus composed Himself and handled difficult situations.
Lastly, it is important to always remember that even if you are not in a position where you have a leadership title, such as nurse manager or clinical coordinator, every nurse is a leader. Every nurse has someone who is looking to them as a mentor, or a patient who is looking to them to be a leader in their care and advocate for them, which means they need a professional nurse who is going to conduct himself or herself in a manner that reflects Christ. Always remember Matthew 25: 35-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these. brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”