If you’re going to be a great leader, you’re going to have to pass some big tests. It comes with the territory.

You’ll walk through loss and loneliness. You’ll be questioned and criticized. You’ll lead through adversity and obstacles.

But the biggest test you’ll face as a leader, at least in terms of your personal character, is the test of praise.

The Hebrew Proverbs give us this wisdom:

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise.

~ Proverbs 27:21 NIV

One of the distinguishing marks of effective leaders is emotional fortitude, which refers to our ability to handle pressure, criticism, and hardship and keep on going without giving up. But even more vital than resilience is humility.

One of the reasons we see so many leaders making the news and losing their credibility is that their success has outpaced the development of their character. When we start to believe the positive press about us, we begin to believe that we’re invincible and that we really are more valuable and important than other people.

When we start to believe that we matter more than other people, other people will matter less to us. And when we devalue other people, we fail to pour our lives into them and to develop them – the very essence of leadership.

Talent and charisma are great, but they’re never enough. Without character, they lead to disaster, and character is tested and proven in the furnace of praise.

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