Pencil Leadership

My son brought his homework for me to sign. I have to sign his homework sheet saying I saw it and it is complete.

So I go to the refrigerator. After learning that our kids will spread pencils all over the house if they can reach them we keep the pencils in a cup on top of the fridge.

photo 2.JPG

I had a problem though. I didn't have a pencil sharpener handy, and I needed a pencil that I knew was ready to write. The problem was that All I saw were a bunch of erasers.

How do you pick a pencil when all you see are erasers? You pick the one with a used eraser. If the eraser is worn then I know somebody has used this pencil. A pencil with a perfect new eraser may not be sharpened at all. A pencil with a worn eraser has seen some stuff. It has written before, and was used to fix and rewrite.

The pencil with the worn eraser may not stand as tall in the cup because it's been sharpened. It doesn't look as clean and polished, but it is ready to write.

Even if the writing end is dull it only takes a spin or two in the sharpener because it's already broken in.

We are often attracted by the newest and tallest leaders in our lives. We want the new guy or gal that has "potential".

In I Samuel 9 we see Saul described before he is chosen king.

1 There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

Notice he was the most handsome, and the tallest. He looked like a leader. There was one major problem. He had no character. Or more accurately he had bad character.

One indicator a leader has bad character is they never use their eraser. Bad leaders never own and fix their mistakes. It's always someone else's fault. There are always excuses why they didn't do the right thing.

If you read I Samuel you'll see that King Saul fails royally, and even when caught red handed he says to Samuel I've done exactly what God told me to do. He lies, covers up, and makes excuses.


The only reason to deny mistakes is if we are ok with repeating them.

Owning and fixing your mistakes:

  • Keeps you humble
  • Keeps you fresh
  • Keeps you curious, and hungry to learn how to do better next time
  • Shows your team it's ok to take risks
  • Sends the message "I trust you"

Hiding mistakes:

  • Doesn't work(people are not dumb)
  • Erodes your heart
  • Corrupts your character
  • Sends the message it's not safe to be authentic
  • Prevents you from learning and growing
  • Almost guarentees you will repeat the mistake

So have you used your eraser lately? It's never too late to break it in.


Signup to get updates when I post new content!

* indicates required