I am actually blogging from inside a plane. The plane has its own wifi! I have headphones in and I’m watching X-Men, Amanda is sitting next to me and watching a period drama. In under four hours we will be in Chicago to catch our connection to Denver. It’s been a remarkably pleasant flight with no turbulence or issues.
As I am sitting here, I am thinking about the whole aeroplane experience, having been on a few this year and intending to fly at least twice more before 2015. As someone who is used to making my own decisions, plot my own course and generally get my own way, flying is a very different experience. You sit where you are told, you wait until they are ready to fly, you eat what you are given, and you don’t get a vote on destination once airborne.
Why would any adult subject themselves to this treatment? Why would they subject themselves so willingly to another person, and pay a lot of money to do so? The answer is remarkably simple: the pilot of the aeroplane has a set of skills that means only he can get me where I need to be. I can’t do it myself I need him to take me. As long as I need him to get to where I need to be, I have to listen carefully to him, and give up my individual freedom to be part of something bigger than myself to access the pilots skill and wisdom because I have a destination.
The application to us as leaders is huge. Firstly, to get people to follow you you must have a destination, you must have a place they want, even need to go to. Right now I follow the workout and eating advice of someone because I want to get to a certain place health wise. I have three mentors whose advice on church leadership and planting I follow because I need to get somewhere. People follow me because I am leading them to a great destination. Secondly, if you have wisdom to get somewhere don’t ever let your vision be a democracy. A lot of people join someone because of a need to get somewhere but on the journey, selfishness, impatience, frustration and pride kick in and, although ignorant, start insisting things be done a certain way. Don’t let people sew their cotton patches into your silk vision. If you have spent years training to be the pilot, and you know you can do it through your experience and your passion, don’t hand the joystick over to anyone else.
Finally, if you do want to be better than you are, if you want to go further than you have ever gone, reach destinations you never could on your own, you will have to learn to develop the character to be part of something bigger than yourself and learn to shut up and listen to the pilot. In an age where people want their democratic rights, where people think the church should be run by committee, where schools give votes to children and politicians put popularity over principles, learn to develop the necessary character to remain somewhere, to be a small part of a big wheel, to lay down your opinions to get to where you need to be. If you find a good pilot, board, sit down, listen well and don’t jump out until you have completed the journey.