I love to run — most of the time.
I love to run when the weather is sunny, when the terrain is flat, and when I know the approximate distance and route in advance. My enthusiasm diminishes and the emotional degree of difficulty increases significantly for me if any one or combination of these optimal conditions change.
However, I live in British Columbia, where it frequently rains and where there is an abundance of hills and mountains. While there may occasionally be ideal conditions, if I am to be a runner, I need to choose to run anyway. I need to choose to press on even when – especially when — the conditions are tougher, harder, and wetter.
Leaders need to make the same kind of choice in adverse conditions. And, let’s be real, the conditions are rarely ideal. Today’s leadership environment is much more chaotic than controlled. The issues and challenges are usually more confusing than clear. The pressures of leading forward are not conducive to comfort.
Beyond imperfect conditions, it’s easy for leaders to become discouraged by negative trend lines, overwhelming needs, strong opposition or pervasive apathy. This is where choosing comes in.
By God’s grace, we need to choose dependency on Christ rather than struggle with our own inadequacy. We need to choose to trust God rather than be paralyzed by our fears. We need to choose to keep our mind focused on God’s goodness rather than be dominated by negative thinking. We need to choose to press on as leaders even when it would be easier to give in or give up.
The Bible tells us that a great cloud of witnesses surrounds us. On tougher leadership days I am reminded of one of these witnesses — Paul. He had his share of leadership challenges. Re-read 2Corinthians 11:16-29 for a quick reminder that things could be worse! He knew what it was to be “harassed at every turn, conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2Corinthians 7:5) yet he chose by God’s grace to dependently lead on.
Let’s make that choice. Let’s keep leading.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1Corinthians 15:58