Learning about leadership can happen in the most unexpected places!
My 16-year-old son, Micah, just got his driving permit a couple of weeks ago. And I gotta say, it’s both fun and scary to teach my boy how to drive–we’ve only almost run one car off the road so far! (This is a picture of Micah heading out for the first time with a driving instructor.)
But what’s really interesting to me is what I’m learning about leadership as I teach my son to drive. Here are a couple of things I’ve learned.
1. I take a lot of my knowledge for granted
I’ve forgotten how much of what I do as a driver I’ve had to learn. So many of the little things: when to hit the brakes vs. simply taking your foot off the gas, remembering to turn the headlights on at dusk, and how to fill up without spilling gasoline all over the side of the car!
In our leadership, we know things that we take for granted; we assume everyone knows what we know. But our people need our guidance.
A few years ago, the church I currently serve offered no ministry except Sunday morning services. They had a very small imagination of what they were called to do as a church. What they needed was someone to say, “What else could you do to serve this community?” And that was enough to start an amazing neighborhood ministry! (You can hear about that ministry HERE.)
What are the things in your context that your people need to you to teach and model for them?
2. People get anxious when they fail or don’t know what to do
And anxiety can lead to bad decisions. As I’m teaching my son to drive, we often encounter new situations on the road.
Well, new to him, not to me.
For instance, what do you do when the lane you need to merge into is full of cars and you can’t get over in time to take the off-ramp? What you shouldn’t do is try to force yourself into that lane (this is where we almost ran someone off the road!). Experience teaches us that sometimes you’re going to miss the exit. No big deal. You might get to your destination a few minutes later if you have to go on to the next exit, but it’s better to get there alive than not get there at all!
My son got all stressed out when we missed the exit. I had to say, “No big deal. We’ll just take the next exit.”
When the people we lead face the unknown, they get anxious. “What should we do now?” When they fail, the get anxious. “What did we do wrong?”
Sometimes our job as leaders is simply to help lower the anxiety in the room. Sometimes we need to say, “Hey, it’s no big deal. Let’s try something and see what happens.” Or, “It’s no big deal. We tried and failed, but we learned something. What did we learn?”
Where in your context do you need to be a non-anxious leader? Where do you need to say to folks, “No big deal. What did we learn?”
Keep it up!
Leadership is hard. Especially in changing times. But don’t give up. It’s important that we continue learning about leadership.
As ministry leaders, we have been called to be shalom-bringers in a broken world. Trust that God will give you the wisdom and courage to be the leader your church and community need you to be.