A zippy trip to the electronics store brought unexpected lessons in leadership. After finishing my shopping, I turned out of the parking lot into the right turn lane. At least, I thought it was the turn lane. I stopped behind a truck that was pulling a utility trailer. I waited for the light to change.
It was a busy day. I was distracted by a number of things that raced through my mind. After a long moment, it occurred to me that the light was taking an awfully long time to change. Still, I waited. Presently, I noticed the vehicles beside me were moving, again.
“How long is this light?” I thought to myself.
At this very moment the “lights” started to come on in my head. Things became crystal clear, especially when I noticed the workers busily trimming grass nearby. The truck-trailer-rig in front of me was not waiting for the light to change. It belonged to these industrious lawn care specialists. It was parked. I was sitting behind a parked vehicle! GRRRR! After sheepishly making sure the coast was clear, while hoping that no one had noticed my folly, I made my escape from this embarrassing situation.
This happened a few years ago. Still, I think about it almost every time I travel the same route. The more I think about it, it seems to me that there are valuable lessons to be learned from this experience pertaining to leadership.
To be sure, everybody is leading somebody somewhere. Whether we realize it or not, this is true. People are lining up behind us. Since leaders are supposed to go ahead and show the way, those following us expect us to be going somewhere. God expects us to be going somewhere, too!
The Apostle Paul’s model of leadership captures the essence of what should take place. His leadership paradigm and leadership development strategy are summed up in succinct terms: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) This is precisely why he could instruct Timothy: “…the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2, ASV)
There are many lessons for followers, as well.
To begin with, we really should pay attention to what those we are following are doing. Before we fall in behind them we should know where they are going! Do some investigative work. Don’t just fall in line behind the person in front of you. Find out where the line is headed—whether or not it’s going God’s way.
Realize, also, that absentmindedness leads to emptiness! If you are behind someone who is going nowhere, guess where you’re going? Nowhere! Or worse, Jesus said if the blind follow the blind, they both fall into the pit. (Matthew 15:14)
The bottom line: Never follow anyone, unless you are positive she or he is following Christ! He is the leader we all are to follow!
© Bill Williams
October 30, 2005