Going to the beach was an annual event when I was growing up. With each passing year, I was given more freedom, from splashing in ankle-deep water to venturing a little further out while staying close to my parents to eventually having full independence. It was in those later years that I learned an important lesson about rip currents and leadership.
I loved being in the deeper water, where my feet barely touched and the breakers were bigger. After an hour of fun, I would look up and realize how far I had drifted down the beach. Even though I thought I had stayed in place, an unseen, powerful current had steadily pulled me far away. Fortunately, my family’s collection of chairs and towels gave me a marker to use in navigating my way back.
Leaders are constantly dealing with their own version of rip currents – unseen, powerful forces that will pull them away from where God is leading them and their church or ministry. The force may be direct opposition that comes from within or outside the organization. Or it may be the subtler temptation to take the easy path.
Just like the currents at the beach, you may not be able to control those forces, but you can respond to them wisely in three ways:
- Recognize their existence. If I had ignored the reality of the currents at the beach, I could have drifted into danger. It’s not helpful to deny or ignore the forces that are pulling you in the wrong direction. Once you recognize them, you’re better able to respond.
- Establish clear markers. A clear vision for your church or ministry makes it easier to recognize when you’ve drifted. It’s rarely enough to have a vision statement – the specific plans and milestones for reaching the vision are the markers that will be most helpful. They are what allow you to determine if you’re on track.
- Get back on course. At the beach, I eventually would walk back to the shallow water and re-establish my position. Staying in the deeper water would have meant either drifting further or fighting the rip current. In the same way, there will be times when you need to interrupt whatever you’re doing – even if it’s frustrating or inconvenient – to get back on course.
What are the rip currents you’re facing? How do you need to respond?
This article originally appeared here.