Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The difference between guiding and leading...

Last week, I traveled to one of the most amazing cities in America with the Devos Urban Leadership Initiative. For four days, brilliant and passionate youth leaders from across the country gathered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a leadership conference. Each day was filled with encouragement, inspiration, and fun. However, every morning before we gathered together for breakfast, there was an optional three mile run. One of the event organizers, knowing that I enjoy working out, asked me to lead the three mile run on two of the three days. The run organizer told me that there would be some people who would run faster than me and some that would run slower but he trusted me to keep the pace. I was excited for the opportunity, this was my chance to excel in one of my passions with other powerful youth leaders.

The first day we ran, I was filled with nervous excitement. I stayed with the front runner and enjoyed the pace. Day two was my turn to lead. I put on my flyest running gear and prepared to blaze a trail. We started together, then I took off at a great pace leaving most of the group behind. I finished the run way ahead of everyone and was quite proud of how well I ran. The third day, I ran even faster and gloried in the fact that I was so ahead of everyone that I could add nearly an additional half a mile to my run.

The bible says in Philippians chapter two verse three, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves."

Me with the giant Mr. Rogers Statue
When the conference ended I had a conversation with one of the morning runners. He was impressed by the runs but concerned about my leadership. What?!?! I lead the group, I was the fastest, I looked awesome in the lead. What was wrong?

"Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them." - John C. Maxwell

As we endeavor to RUN for Christ, lets remember that leading doesn't mean leaving others behind as we RACE to the finish. Your  intentions may not be purposely selfish however the perception of your efforts can be contradictory.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ leads the way for us but promises to stay close enough to guide us when the route gets uncertain. As you lead your family, coworkers, volunteers, and friends set the right pace but stay close enough to help out. If you are really good at something, help others get better. You look great in the front - now look back and make sure you haven't left your team...