Monday, March 2, 2009

Air Intake Hose

Last night our daughter Jennifer called from college to let me know that her car had broken down. She was on her way back to the dorm from services at Midtown church and was able to pull into the McDonald’s parking lot at Gervais and Huger (pronounced Jer-vay and You-gee).

We talked through her options on the phone and then she called roadside assistance.

It turned out to be a fairly simple fix – the air intake hose had come loose.

Lately I am constantly looking for leadership lessons everywhere and found a few in Jennifer’s brief adventure.

Engines won’t run without oxygen. I am the least mechanically inclined person I know, but even I know that a combustible engine requires oxygen for the combustion – after that it’s something about little explosions driving pistons (that’s where I get lost). Leaders require oxygen too – so do churches. When I become disconnected to the things that give me life (family, rest, creative outlets, God’s Word, and increasingly prayer) I won’t run either.

Dad’s feel helpless when they are 15 hours away. The time waiting between phone calls last night was excruciating. What I wanted to do was to drive over to the McDonald’s parking lot and help Jennifer solve the problem. A lot can be accomplished over the phone (or via email, Facebook or twitter) but there are moments when personal proximity is essential. Lately, I’m trying to be more intentional about spending one-on-one time with the leaders I lead. There is simply no substitute for being present.

Experts can recognize what needs to be done. I ran through every scenario my limited automotive knowledge could imagine. My imagination quickly ran to a totaled engine and a major repair bill. It took an expert to fix the problem. I am blessed to be surrounded by experts in communication, worship, children, youth, education and many more. Good leadership is trusting that they often recognize what needs to be done before I do.

Great leadership is staying out of the way while they do it!

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