The single biggest doubt I have when leading is, “Am I going the right way?” We have all spent time praying and planning to discover that the decision we made and/or the direction we took our followers was the wrong way or tangential to where we really wanted/needed to be. When we are blazing trails, there will be times when we go the wrong way, make mistakes, and even, sometimes, sin.
Two of my coworkers, Pat Robertson and Walt Jones, did something incredible last summer. They and two other family members, Shane Robertson and Kip Jones, made the 8,000+ mile journey from Maine to Alaska in a 46 foot boat through the Northwest Passage. They were the first privately owned motor boat under 60 feet in length to ever make this passage unassisted by ice breakers. To put this in perspective, more people have climbed to the top of Mount Everest than have made the Northwest Passage in any kind of boat. (You can read more about this incredible adventure and see photos taken along the way at http://www.mvgeraldine.com/.)
One of the events described by this intrepid team was the making of their way through pack ice. The lookout would direct the boat pilot, but sometimes they would hit a dead-end. They would then try to retrace their route, but the sea currents and the wind had changed the configuration of the pack ice, and they would have to work their way to newly opened channels until they found their way to open sea and were able to continue their planned route. The question in mind was always, “Are we going the right way?” At times their navigation equipment did not function properly because they were so close to the magnetic North Pole. They had no choice but to continue trying to find the right route to complete their journey. To quit was to die.
As leaders, we can’t stop leading simply because we chose the wrong way or lose our way. We have to confess our sins and /or mistakes, regroup the team, ask for input, determine the best direction to go with the information in hand, plan, retrain and resource the team, and start moving in the right direction. We depend on God through prayer and the guidance of His Holy Spirit, but we don’t stop leading, we don’t stop listening, we don’t stop moving.
Leadership requires us to push through personal failure, personal pain, personal biases, and the failures of our people. Leaders by influence have to have the patience to allow situations to mature, advise when goals are out of sync, and walk beside when necessary. What we do is about the THE KINGDOM, not our personal empires. The results are eternal, not temporal. We will be judged by God, not man.
So, if you are going to be a leader – obedience, love, service, exemplary lives, courage, and adapting to change is a part of the package. We also have to make tough decisions, and understand that we will make mistakes. What separates great leaders from good leaders is an obedience to God, striving towards excellence, humility in service, commitment to a vision, determination to succeed, willingness to risk, ability to forgive, courage to change, desire to learn, recruiting teams to our weaknesses, capacity to strategize and implement plans, making more leaders, and never quitting.
I hope we all strive to be the best leaders we can be. Never stop leading!