Recently Barb and I took a few days and got away on the motorcycle for our anniversary. We knew of a quaint inn in south east Ohio that sets right on a river next to a dam. The second day we took off for a ride even though the chance of rain was high. We rode to a town nearby and had lunch with friends and then checked the weather app and saw the chance of rain had fallen drastically so we took off for a nice ride through Hocking Hills park and beyond. Then it happened…rain. We put on rain gear and rode on trying to head towards wherever it looked like the skies were clear. Mind you we are in the country, with hills and winding roads, really winding roads, which is why we were there, to ride the hills and curvy roads…just not in the rain. So the rain kept coming and going until it mostly was raining. We began heading towards the area where the inn was located and we missed a turn or two but the GPS kept re-directing us toward our destination. It was raining pretty hard in places and we began seeing the water running alongside the road, down hill getting deeper and deeper. Missed a couple of big puddles and hit a couple of more. It was difficult for me to see to navigate our way on strange roads. Narrow roads with little space to pull off so we kept moving along with me straining to see the road in front of me. Seeing just far enough to make the turns in front of me we were not riding very fast just trying to work our way to a safe and dry place. There was a pick up truck following us in one stretch and I was very appreciative that he was giving us space yet I was aware he was there. Sometimes I think I focus too much on what is behind me rather than what is out in front.
Then it happened…as I strained to see the road in front of me all I could see was water. Maybe 10 feet away but more like less than 6 feet away water was running across the road and there was nothing I could do. I yelled to Barb to hold on and she did what she does best…yell out the name of Jesus! We hit the water…I would guess at least a foot deep, maybe more maybe less but a lot of moving water across the road. As we entered the water I kept applying the gas and holding on as the bike squirmed back and forth. I was pretty sure this would end badly…but we came out the other side and kept moving. (I would love to talk to the guy behind me to see what he saw as we splashed through the water.) A mile or so up the road I saw a large building with an awning on the left so I pulled into the gravel lot and pulled all the way up under the awning and we got off the bike. To say I was a little shaken would be an understatement and yet Barb was like, “That went pretty well didn’t it?” She told me,” I knew you could do it so I was not afraid at all…well other than asking Jesus for help loudly and He did. Jesus helped!” The rain slowed down and we finished our trip to the inn…I am not sure it even rained there! Sunlight broke through and we were safe.
This is leadership for me. I do not always see way out in front with great clarity. Fact is most of the time it seems like I am struggling to see through a foggy, wet windshield in a rain storm navigating one curve or hill at a time. Rarely do I feel like I am traveling familiar roads with wide pull off areas and run in a straight line in the sunshine. As Barb expressed her confidence in me I shake my head and tell her I was terrified we were going down. I fought every curve and intersection…nothing was easy. I wanted to pull over and call for an Uber driver to come and get me…but there were no Uber drivers where we were…no obvious ways of help. It was perseverance and steadfastness to keep pressing on even when it looked like this ride was going to end badly. It did not…it ended well with a great story to tell, an adventure that Barb says we should celebrate and not miss out on.
I get it…sometimes leadership is having all the answers and walking with extreme confidence in who you are and what you are doing. Well, sometimes leadership is pressing through a storm, even though visibility is low and there are things like huge puddles trying to take you out. You hold on and press on…sunshine is just ahead…it was not where we were at it was just ahead. We could not sit and wait for it to come to us…we had to keep pursuing it. I think there are only so many John Maxwell’s in this world and for many of us in leadership roles this thing does not come naturally. We try but it becomes mechanical and not real and then we are frustrated. The best thing I can do for those who will choose to follow me is keep getting back up and moving forward. The next morning after all of that excitement we had to climb back on the bike and ride four hours home to attend a funeral. There were no options just get back on the bike and head home…if I have one talent it is simply that…getting back on the bike and riding…not stopping when it really does seem like it would be a good idea. For some of you reading this you cannot relate to my story at all and for others you totally get it. That is why I write…for those, like myself, that find themselves in leadership roles and you feel like you don’t fit the mold. You probably don’t…have you read the Bible? God chooses the unlikely all of the time…be good with it and keep getting back up and leading…we need you.