Among other things, leadership always involves decision making. Many of the decisions we make in our roles at work have little to no impact on our personal lives, but not all are work decisions.

A few years back, I was at a church leadership conference, led by two top leaders in that industry. The first main session had to do with family life and was led by Andy Stanley.

The opening session suggested many goals that a family should have. Here are a few:

  1. Be in love even after the kids are out of the home.
  2. When the kids are old enough not to have to be together, they will still choose to be together.
  3. Pray together at every stage.
  4. Prioritize your marriage on your calendar, not just your heart.

While these were great goals to have, the thing that stood out to me the most was a statement he made; “Don’t give up what is unique to you for something someone else will do.”

Another way he has said it is. “Don’t trade something that is unique to you for something that is not permanent.”

Leaders, this is the one trade you must never make! Never trade what is unique to you, for something that is not permanent.

Your company, job, softball team, social media, and a fantasy football league can all be done by someone else. There are things you should never trade for the previous list.

1. Relationships.

These would include your relationship with God, spouse, children, and family. You should never trade in these relationships or the priority thereof over a career or anything else that is not unique to you.

We may not even recognize that we are investing more of our time and energy in people, activities, and engagements that are less important.

2. Values

If you are in leadership long enough there will be a deal, phone call, request that will cause you to stare your values straight in the face, and you will have to decide whether to give up your values or not. I encourage you that nothing is worth the price of your values.

Most recently, I had to choose between something I wanted and something that was unique to me. There was a leadership conference that I was planning on attending for some time.

As the conference was approaching, I needed to decide to pull the trigger on purchasing the ticket, airfare, and hotel. After recognizing what was going on in my family, I realized that this was a time that I needed to be home.

Just a few days after I made the decision, I got an email from the company hosting the conference that they were going to comp the conference for me. The free ticket would have cut the financial investment of going to the conference down considerably.  So there I was again staring down the priority barrel of my life.

I contacted the company and thanked them for the offer, but explained that I felt I needed to be home with my family during this time. They emailed me back and told me they believed I was making the right decision. That company has some very strong values as do their employees.

I wish I always hit a home run in this area, but I am learning as I go.

I want to challenge you to look at your life and ask if you are saying yes to the wrong thing. I have found one of the greatest tools for staying on track in your life is to create a life plan.

Remember, the one trade a leader must never make is trading something that is unique to you, for something that is not permanent.