While sitting at the Langley Harbor on Whidbey Island waiting for my crab pot to fill up I watched the water recede and then refill. I have seen this high tide, low tide sequence repeat itself many times over the years but today it was different. I saw it with new eyes. The pictures reveal the truth about leadership. Sometimes those we lead, and, even ourselves get beached. Call it what you want but the feeling is stuck, immobile, stranded, just like the boat in the picture.
As leaders, when we feel like we are on dry ground and of no use, we often try and manufacture ways to get going. A famous verse we all use for this is 1 Samuel30:6b AMP, “David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” A great reminder for those times we have failed, blown it or otherwise feel like we are beached. We feel alone, isolated and vulnerable to attack.
David Was Emotionally Distraught
“David and the men with him lifted up their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep.” 1 Samuel 30:4 (AMP). We have all been here, it’s a part of leadership. Our emotions are like a raw and exposed nerve and we feel like there is no next step. We are stuck and we feel like there is no way that our currentsituation can or will become better.
David Was Personally Discouraged
“David’s two wives also had been taken captive.” 1 Samuel 30:5 (AMP). Most leaders, when they make a mistake, do the best they can to own it and move on. However, when a decision we make as a leader effects those we love most, well, that’s another story, isn’t it? Watching those we love suffer the consequences of our decisions is incredibly difficult.
David Was Greatly Distressed
“David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him.” 1 Samuel 30:6a (AMP). If being emotionally distraught and personally discouraged isn’t enough, what comes next is greatly distressing. Those whom you lead have changed their mind about you. They are no longer with you, they are against you. Those you used to look to for encouragement are now looking for you. You feel like there is now where else to turn. Stuck, immobile, stranded.
When we are emotionally distraught, personally discouraged and greatly distressed it’s time to strengthen ourselves in the Lord.
I have always thought strengthening myself in the Lord was always up to me. And while that’s true, I wonder if there is another way to think about how we can strengthen ourselves in our Lord. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15 (NASBStr).
Things I have done to strengthen myself in the Lord have been reading, memorizing and meditating on scripture. Praying, fasting, and listening to empowering music. Journaling and trying to find some great leadership meaning out of what current crisis I find myself in.
The hardest thing for me, and I would venture to say, all leaders as a group, is to sit and wait. Leaders are doers. They make decisions, they count the cost. They know leadership is forged in turmoil and difficulty. They understand the power of Christ in weakness and…they don’t like to wait. Waiting is not doing, or is it? Here’s what I know.
We must wait for the tide to come back in.
There is a difference between a ship “wreck” and a ship “stuck.”
The pictures below are of the same boat on the same day, just at different times.
The boat stays still.
“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” Psalm 37:7 (NLT)
The boat didn’t try and refuel, it just sat. The boat has been here many times before and it will go through this process many times in the future and it only did one thing, it didn’t move. It stayed moored to an immovable structure. Yes, the water receded and left the boat stuck, but only for a while. As leaders we simply need to stayed moored to the immovable person of Christ who, through the ebb and flow of life, will allow us to get stuck from time to time. We are allowed this opportunity so we develop patience, compassion and empathy for others in similar situations. We sit and patiently wait expecting the tide to come back in, because the tide always comes back in.
The tide always comes back in.
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (NLTse)
The tide raises the boat, not the other way around.
“I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up…” Psalm 40:1 (AMP)
As a leader, what’s most difficult for you?
1. Be Still
2. Wait Patiently
3. Wait Expectantly
4 All of The Above
Photo Credit: © Craig Jutila. Boats in Langley Harbor, Whidbey Island WA