I was talking with a few friends recently about how they were doing and the rough time they had been going through at their church. The main guy is a great communicator/speaker, his wife is a gentle pastor and his main associate is an extremely gifted and loyal guy. You would never suspect they could be facing what they are facing...then you hear more of the story. One of a good leader hearing too many voices on how to lead...and he got lost in the noise...he began leading trying to keep others happy.
Reminded me of the time we were finishing the last leg of our week of motorcycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were an hour or two our from our home and Ray said I should lead us to the house. From there they might go on or spend the night and then head on in the morning. It was an easy leading assignment...it was my home...we were on a highway not back roads. Really it was just riding in front of Ray and Carol. How hard could that be? YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED!
As we got closer to home (nice title of my favorite Grand Funk song...sorry) the weather began to change especially in front of us. We stopped and gassed up and I suggested maybe we stop there and wait it out...Ray said we could press on. (thought I was leading:) So off we head...right into a storm. Now this is the hard part...I was leading but I was also wondering how Ray would lead here...what would he do? (WWRD) I was thinking we should stop but I didn’t want Ray to think I cannot lead...it is not fun getting wet on a bike. I mean the sky was ugly and menacing and it was obvious it was going to rain...sometime. I kept looking in my mirror to see if maybe Ray would wave me over...yeah I am leading...kind of. No wave. So we kept going forward...that is what a leader does...goes forward. Right?
Now to top it off we had called ahead and talked to my daughter and she told us it was raining. But we were not sure I guess. Then it happened. The skies opened up and down came the rain. Cars were pulling over...not us. WWRD was my main thought...even as it felt like I was about to drown on my bike. How embarrassing would that be...”Man Drowns While Riding Motorcycle!” The Toledo Blade would have been all over it. I can hear them interviewing Ray...”Well I wondered why we did not stop...but Bill was leading.” Sure Ray, throw me under the bus!
The point really is this...you cannot lead if you are looking over your shoulder wondering if everyone following you is happy. Happeh, happeh, happeh. Does not work. You go crazy. You are trying to think about what they are thinking. Instead of leading you are trying to keep people happy...so they will follow as you lead. This was my friends situation...the one at the beginning at the story. He had others correcting him and threatening...to stop following him. In the end that is what they did anyway...and they took many with them. Now we can blame them and they get some blame for sure. But like when I was on the bike...I knew we should stop...and I did not. I knew what should be doing but once I stopped leading and began following from up front...we were going to get wet. We sure did.
I am not talking like we don’t need feed back...there is wisdom in a multitude of counsellors...if I had stopped and consulted with Ray and Carol I might have found we were on the same page. Instead I tried to think for both of us...not good. I am not mind reader...sometimes I am not sure what I am thinking!
My friends have been hurt badly...maybe we could say they got soaked. On a motorcycle the worst thing you could do is spend more time looking behind you or to the side than looking straight ahead. You need to look ahead to see the traffic or the clouds ahead. What is behind you really cannot get you like what is in front of you...and you are leading. I just heard of a guy riding his bike on the turnpike and he looked down at something and when he looked up...traffic was stopped. He was not. He walked away...hurt...his bike totaled...stuff happens.
I know there will always be many voices behind us and around us to help us. Some will help...but some won’t. You have to discern...and that means you have to know you are leading...or not.