Knowing what vehicle you are driving and making the most of the journey.
I love my drive to work. Not the distance but the view and the back roads. Most mornings I jump in my little VW Jetta and start my morning drive through the country. About a mile from my home there is an exciting curvy road near a river that slaloms between power poles. I usually drive the road at a pretty good clip weaving in and out of the poles with ease. I see it as a challenge to be conquered each morning. Can I best my last time? Remaining within the speed limit of course.
However, the other day I jumped in the AWD crossover and set out on that same road with a vehicle full of family. I was making great time, but the vehicle was too sloppy and tended to roll and list against my tight cornering skills. I looked over and my wife had a firm grasp on the “OC” handle (Christian lingo) and a look of discomforted fear in her eyes. She looked at me and stated, “You are not alone in your zippy car honey…we’d like to remember the ride and be alive to enjoy the destination.” Or something like that.
Needless to say I slowed down and came to a couple of realizations that day. First, as a leader there are times that I personally grow in leaps in bounds. I come to new understandings and gain new visions of where I am to head next. I jump out into a new faith journey with gusto and accelerate around the obstacles of life watching them disappear in my rear view mirror. My fresh vision of life is exciting, and my desire is for those I am journeying with to experience a similar growth of faith. So, I gather up the troops and unload all of my ideas, dreams, and visions expecting everyone to jump in the VW Jetta and zip along with me.
Although my intentions are good the reality is that, as a leader, I am actually driving a large awkward bus and not my little zippy VW. The bus takes longer to get moving, takes far more fuel, corners awful, and prefers downhill grades. Momentum has to be established on the downhill stride so that there can be just enough speed to make the long uphill jaunt.
Suddenly, it doesn’t seem as fun to drive. It’s hot or it’s cold as no one can agree on the temperature for the ride. It’s noisy or too quiet and most people prefer their own form of entertainment on the trip. It begins to smell funny and people begin to ask, “Are we there yet?” Then someone says, “I am getting car sick” and another, “I have to use the restroom”. With that the trip comes to a temporary halt. The most depressing part is that we’ve only gone 60 miles on a 1200 miles trek. This is gonna be a frustrating and long journey together.
Learning to lead through the long haul is a test of patience and humility. The best example for this is Jesus and His relationship with the disciples. He could’ve come down to earth, called the disciples, and then sent them out fully gifted and equipped the very next day. Instead, Jesus took three long years to reveal to them that the Kingdom He was establishing was spiritual and not earthly. Actually, after three long years the disciples still didn’t get it, so the Holy Spirit was given to them for spiritual enlightenment.
Jesus also didn’t expect them to catch everything the first time. He knew the hopeful destination for His life and ministry. However, no matter how much teaching and vision casting Jesus did for the disciples they were perplexed by the present reality and overwhelmed by the future promise. He beautifully described what the Kingdom of God was, and yet His followers struggled to grasp the fundamentals of the faith. Nevertheless, He continued to patiently lead them in their faith journey.
Now let me be clear. I am not comparing myself to Jesus. As a leader I stumble and falter, and at times I don’t love the way I am called to. I can, however, strive to lead, love, teach, and cast vision like Jesus did. He did so patiently, directly and took every opportunity He could to live it out in front of those He loved. Jesus’ journey on earth was an intentional invitation of sharing life with those he led. As a leader the destination is important, but patiently loving those with us on the journey is imperative. Take them along for the ride of their life and enjoy the journey even the untimely pit stops!
Journeying with Jesus,