Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bright Light

One of the toughest leadership lessons that I have taught (and had to learn as well) is that a leader will have to learn to be a follower as well. We can't always be the one who is steering the ship and determining our course, but we can have great impact by following the one that God has placed in that role.

Several years ago I was leading one of the annual trips to the American Indian Christian Mission in Show Low, Arizona with a group of high schoolers from Florida. I look at these trips as a chance to bless those that we go to minister to, but to also use the opportunity to invest in our team members. One afternoon we were engaged in a leadership game that required them to figure out a task. I had used this multiple times in different settings and the task usually took about 15 minutes to complete. On this particular trip, however, we had at least 10 very strong leaders (and several other quiet ones) which made the task much more difficult than it had to be. I offered no suggestions, but simply watched as this simple task was still not complete one hour later. While their frustrations were mounting I simply sat back and watched. When I realized we had reached a breaking point, I stepped in to tell them one of the toughest leadership lessons: lead by following. I then picked one of our quietest leaders and told them to take charge and that no one else was allowed to speak. They finished their task in under 10 minutes and the point was made.

Even though I feel that I have a better grasp on this concept than I once did, I still struggle with making this happen. Some very wise people who have invested in my life over the years have helped me to see the truth of not always having to speak the answer to situations or direct people exactly where everything should go. It is a difference of wanting to get things done or investing in the people around you so that everybody grows as a result.

This was all brought home to be today through a blog by Seth Godin where he wrote, "One option is to struggle to be heard whenever you're in the room. Another option is to be the sort of person who is missed when you're not. The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference."

I have made a lot of noise in my life. I am working hard every day in prayer, study, and action to make a difference.

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