The Hammer of Humor

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Jesus was a master teacher and story-teller. There are many lessons in leadership we can glean from His words. One word-picture Jesus used was of two men who built their houses on different foundations. One was a wise architect who built on rock, and the other was a foolish architect who built on sand. You know, sometimes I like to think of leadership as being centered around building. Leaders build organizations. They build teams. And most importantly, leaders build people.

There are many tools in a leader’s belt. A leader’s vision could be the blueprint. Their discipline could be the nails that hold things together. One of the most powerful tools a builder has is their hammer. Hammers can construct every kind of structure or destroy the strongest fortresses. For a leader, I think their hammer is also sometimes their sense of humor. So, today, I’d like to share a few important ideas about how to and how not to use humor in leadership.

First of all, humor can be used to disarm barriers. Most people have defense mechanisms or walls they put up when they’re around strangers. Many of these are natural social precautions such as the shyness at a workplace outing. A person is naturally hesitant to be completely open around people they don’t really know. The power of humor is that it communicates humanness. That’s why often many gatherings begin with an “ice-breaker.” Good ice-breakers are usually funny and a lot of fun because laughing helps people relax and feel welcome.

Secondly, humor can be used to destroy a person’s confidence. There are few things that damage a person’s personal security more than being the punch line of an insulting joke. The way we use humor can sometimes communicate the wrong thing. It has the power to erode a person’s confidence and trust in a leader. People are less likely to be open and honest with you if they think their honesty is ammunition for the next stand-up comedy act. The key is to use humor that is not negative in nature, but to build up others and encourage them. Leader should never use the vulnerabilities of others as ammunition to mock them. In fact the more you mock others, the more insecure you appear to your team.

Lastly, humor can be used to build identity. Humor is a natural expression of a person’s personality. Each person has a unique sense of humor. If you make a place for people to express their humor, you allow a greater level of diversity into the workplace. By giving people the opportunity to be open about a part of themselves, you are encouraging them to bring every aspect of their unique Divine Design into the workplace. This kind of engagement validates, encourages, and empowers a person to utilize the full scope of who God created them to be.

Thanks for checking out my blog. I pray this has encouraged and empowered you on your journey. Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments below. Thanks again and have a great day!