I white knuckled the rails as I stepped onto the wooden, wobbly bridge. I looked down. It’s elevation of 18 inches felt more like 18 feet. “Don’t fall. Don’t fall.” I chanted with each tenuous step.
The chains that held the bridge groaned as I made my way across. Tiny beads of sweat formed on my 10 year old forehead. The pressure was caused by more than the wobbling under my feet. We were midway through an epic game of follow the leader, and I was: THE LEADER.
Normally, the bridge was a perfunctory part of the game. We had to be careful, but it was easy enough to cross. Today, it was different. The bridge was broken. The chains that had once held the bridge taut, were stretched and one side was broken. We were taking wobble to a whole new level.
Fortunately, I was one of the smallest and lightest in the class… I tiptoed and crept my way across the bridge. Slowly. But I made it….
I jumped to the sturdy and stable balance beam that was our next obstacle. “No problem. I’m in gymnastics, I can handle this.” I danced my way across the beam. Dipping one foot and then the other as low as I could, to show off my mad beam skills.
It wasn’t until I was at the top of the final climbing tower that I looked behind me.
There was no one there.
Somewhere between the bridge and the beam, everyone else had given up. I was leading no one.
Technically, I’d won the game. But, there was no one to celebrate with. I felt like I’d lost.
I made it too hard, and I finished alone.
In real life. leading isn’t a game to win. Leading involves looking around and making sure someone is following. If no one is following, it’s time to evaluate….
- Am I making it too hard? (By setting expectations at a level that can’t be achieved.)
- Am I working so hard to show off my mad “skills” that I make the places I lead look too hard for others? (Hello, martyr-mom line one.)
- Am I going places no one wants to follow? (It may be a cause, a calling or a personal conviction that has crept into your leadership…. it could be a new passion has been born in your heart and it may be time to evaluate your current position of leadership.. Lead where your heart is.)
I’ve been guilty of all the above. I’ve played the martyr role in leadership…. not asking for help and being angry that others don’t step up. I’ve tried to “do it all” because “I’m the only one who can.”
I’ve spent hours trying to be a perfect leader, only to find I come across as intimidating. When really I’m as imperfect as anyone.. (if not more so.)
I’ve let my passions overlap and confused my leadership roles….
How bout you? When is the last time you looked behind you to see if anyone is following?
Maybe today is the day.
Lead well- by looking around and inside.
Dear Lord- you are our leader, help us lead as you did with love and humility, without unreal expectations, without competitive drives that distract from the goal. Make us followers of you and leaders of others. Whether at home, at work or in ministry…..I love you Lord, and thank you for the hour of leading. Amen.
New International Version (NIV)
12 “You stretch out your right hand,
and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
Want to talk more about leading and connecting across distances? I’m on http://www.castlerockradio.com today with Dr Liz Selzer and Amanda Dreher – you can listen @ 1:00 Eastern or download and listen when you can! Christina Linnell is on with us- the interview and show was great!