Lights Are On, But Nobody’s Home. Are You Showing Up to Lead?

Lights Are On, But Nobody’s Home. Are You Showing Up to Lead?

At the age of 69, engineer Joaquin García was slated to receive a special commendation from his boss for his longtime service to the company.  There was only one problem. When they went to deliver the award to his desk, no one could find him.  

In fact, Joaquin hadn’t shown up for work in more than six years – and not a single person had noticed!

Suddenly and understandably concerned for his employee’s welfare, Joaquin’s hiring manager was anxious to get to the bottom of the situation. Jorge Blas Fernández recalls, “He was still on the payroll. I thought, where is this man? Is he still there? Has he retired? Has he died?”

As it turns out, Joaquin was very much alive. During his six-year unannounced sabbatical, he continued to collect his annual salary of approximately $30,000 while doing absolutely nothing!

Filling Not Fulfilling

Except for the occasional stress-induced fantasies about flying the coup, few of us can fathom purposefully going MIA from our positions of leadership. We are, after all, dutiful and responsible adults who pride ourselves on integrity. Inspired by our 1 Corinthians 10:31 wall plaques, we give it our all on a daily basis, trusting we’re doing more than our fair share to build the Kingdom and boost the bottom line.


If we’re to be honest with ourselves, there are plenty of moments where we’re filling our positions, but not fulfilling our calling. In essence, we’ve shown up, but not truly owned up, as leaders. 

You've shown up, but have you owned up to lead?

4 Ways We’re Not Owning Our Leadership

There are plenty of ways we can shirk our leadership responsibilities. Just to name a few…

1. We don’t say the things that need to be said.

You know that nagging internal voice that tells you something’s just not right? That a situation needs to be addressed or a strategy re-thought? Or maybe you need to ask someone the hard questions, or initiate a difficult conversation?

Too often, we ignore that internal prompting because it’s too uncomfortable, messy or time-consuming to practice accountability and honesty. By doing so, we bypass our opportunity to be bold Jesus-like leaders who speak the truth in love.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:25

2. We let the urgent get in the way of the important.

ALERT! ALERT! You have an email… a text…a missed call… a tweet…a visitor at the door. Is it any wonder that leaders have trouble keeping their focus?

Yes, life has unexpected interruptions, many of which we cannot ignore. However, if you’re spending the bulk of your time managing the unforeseen, you’re not leading – you’re being led down an unproductive path toward destruction. Determine your priorities, then carve out the critical time and resources to accomplish them. 

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

If your focus is managing interruptions you aren't leading, you’re being led.

3. We are frivolous managers of resources.

Whether its budget, materials, or perhaps the most precious commodity of all – time – leaders are called to be wise stewards of the resources under our care. Are you spending your resources haphazardly? Conversely, are you fearfully frugal when considering the investment of them? Ask God for wisdom on how to make the best use of the resources with which He has entrusted you.

Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:12-13

4. We squander opportunities to encourage, love and inspire.

When we mistakenly believe our job is our only job, we completely miss the opportunity to use our influence for the greater good. Too often, we allow earthly tasks – as important as they may be – to distract us for the eternal big picture. 

As leaders, we are called to inspire and equip others to become everything God designed them to be. That means regardless of your industry, occupation or title, your primary responsibility is to reflect the love of Jesus, treating every conversation, meeting, decision and task as a sacred moment to be used for God’s glory.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:8-11

Regardless of your title, your primary responsibility is to reflect Jesus' love.

Make it Count

Unlike Joaquin García, you may be showing up at the office – but are you owning up to your leadership? What difference would it make if you walked away today?  Would anyone even notice?

It’s never too late to change course. Say the things that need to be said. Stay laser focused on the important. Be a wise steward of the resources with which you’ve been entrusted. And above all, use your influence to inspire, encourage and love everyone you lead, all for the glory of God. 

Leadership is both a blessing and an opportunity – so let’s make it count today.

More Like This


Heather Day

Heather Day

Heather Day is an accomplished writer and communicator, who served as Lead Like Jesus’ Director of Communications for two years. She also spent nine years as Director of Marketing Communications for Olivet Nazarene University, three years as the Creative Services Coordinator for Bible League International, and two years as Community Outreach Coordinator for St. Anne Community High School. Heather and her husband, Robert, reside in Bourbonnais, IL with their two young children, Emma and Jackson. She is an active member and volunteer leader at Manteno Church of the Nazarene.