If it seems to you that your current state of affairs are going nowhere I want to ask you a critical question that may enlighten you to the cause of your circumstances. Who is your leader?
We need people of progress to influence our lives. We need people in our lives who are where we want to be. We need voices that help keep us on course, introduce us to new ideas, press us into greater possibilities. The problem with a life that is going nowhere is that at some point a critical mistake was made. We chose a leader to take us back.
In Numbers 13 Israel stood on the border of the Promised Land. They sent spies to scout out the land and found that it was just as God had promised. Even though the land was fruitful it was also full of opposition. Their fear magnified the challenge and a land that was full of milk and honey became a land that would devour them (13:32). Fear has a way of making us feel very small (13:33).
Full of discouragement, the people wanted to choose a leader who would take them back to Egypt (13:4). This was a critical mistake. The people never moved forward. They never even made it back. Instead they marched themselves to death in the middle of nowhere.
A leader who will take you back will listen to you. He will not challenge you to face your fears. He will not rock the boat. A leader who will take you back wants you to be happy. They are willing to stop and rethink everything just because you are upset. They will never ask you to do more than you feel comfortable doing. A leader to take you back will allow you to vote on vision. If these agreeable souls are the people who influence your life, I know where you are going. You are going nowhere.
I have had some incredible leaders in my life to whom I owe a great deal. You may be surprised that I found every one of them to be incredibly irritating at critical moments of my journey. They wouldn’t listen to me. I didn’t have a vote. They were not concerned with how I felt. They didn’t ask for my input. Looking back; I was afraid, compromising, comfortable, skeptical, critical - looking for an easier way. I’m glad they didn’t ask! I would have voted to go back.
The more I read the more I realize that some of the greatest decisions made in human history came from leaders who were under great deal of pressure to go back. Thankfully, “back" is not somewhere they were willing to go. Most of the time they came across as arrogant, condescending, even uncaring. Yet what it was really all about is that great leaders don't allow fear to have a vote.
We make a huge mistake when we turn away from people who won’t listen to us. We need someone to get in our grill and show us how to move forward. Don’t surround yourself with people who will always sympathize with you. Invite someone who is where you want to be to come into your life and irritate you, to make you mad, to punch you in the gut from time to time. Perhaps we need less friends and more people willing to drag us up a rock laden hill kicking and screaming.
One of my favorite scenes from The Cosby Show was one where Theo thought he was giving a great, well reasoned speech to his father Dr. Huxtable (played by Bill Cosby). Theo’s passion made it seem as if he had trumped his dad and that for the moment the child had greater wisdom than the father. The speech ended and the “live studio audience” even seemed to applaud (if the applause was in fact real). Cosby played the moment perfectly, standing there in still silence. When the applause subsided Cosby gave the scene yet another pause as if he was going to stand down to the boy. Dr. Huxtable then retorted to the son, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” That’s the kind of influencers we need in our lives. People who can discern the difference in emotion and truth. We need people who aren’t afraid to look us in the face and tell us, “That’s stupid!"
Find someone who has done great things for God, who doesn’t care what you think, or feel, or fear - and follow them - and love them for it! These are the people who will move you forward.