Leadership Lessons from My Dad: Jumping off a Silo

February 21, 2023
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This phrase from my father drove me crazy:

“If so-and-so jumped off a silo, would you follow them?”

First of all, he was making a lame joke by making a common phrase fit his farmer world, and secondly, I would usually hear it in response to this very logical teenage question: “Well my friend is doing it, why can’t I?”

In hindsight, I’m glad he didn’t let me do whatever it was, but his attempt at humor by referring to the four very tall silos that stood out the back door only brought on more teenage frustration and probably a ”You just don’t get it.”

The parenting lesson here is quite obvious: just because someone else is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you to do. In a frustrating way, he was making me think about why I wanted to follow this friend in the first place. Did I trust their choices and was I going along with this friend because I thought it was a good choice for me or was I just trying to impress someone? 

Now that I am far from my teenage years, I can see that there’s a leadership lesson at the core of this saying too.

On one side, we need to be mindful of who is following us. On the other side, we need to consider carefully who we follow, especially when, as in the picture the phrase paints, they want us to do something risky and dangerous.

1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

In these verses from 1 Corinthians, I think Paul is touching on some of these same thoughts. First and foremost, he states that whatever we do, in all areas of life, we need to keep in mind why we are doing it… for the glory of God.

Secondly, in life and especially in leadership, we need to start from the premise that it is not about us, but about seeking the good of others… more specifically, the gospel good of others. Ultimately, our leadership is about leading people to Jesus.

Paul says he does this by “pleasing everyone in every way.”  I see Paul evaluating every word he writes and every action he takes on whether or not it will help his followers move closer to Jesus, not farther away. He wants us to do the same.

The crux of our leadership then is figuring out what we should do and say so those following us are led toward gospel goodness. 

So where do we start? Who helps us know the words that might have a kingdom impact on the one hearing them? Who helps us know the action that will spur someone toward salvation? I think Paul answers that in his last statement:

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Our leadership, whether it be as a spouse, a parent, or a church leader, needs to find its source in Jesus. It’s through His power that we are able to lead at all, and it’s ONLY in His power that we lead ourselves or anyone else toward the good of His gospel. Our leadership needs to be gospel-orienting.

You probably know this already, but pleasing everyone in every gospel-good way is not an easy task. But take heart, leader, we have an example to follow that does it perfectly! He knows us deeply and will always lead us in a gospel-good direction. Logic would say that if we follow that kind of example, we’ll be able to do the same.

So if you’re about to jump off a silo (or take that risk we talked about last week), it might be good to do a check. Look at whose actions and words you are following.  Look around to see who is following you. Then jump in the gospel-good direction that is Jesus.

 

Written by Trudy Ash

Regional Catalyzer – USA Midwest CRCNA

 

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