If you’ve visited Western and Central Europe you know it can be a wet, nasty place. As you drive around, especially in non-summer months, you’ll get acquainted with the mud. The touristy places are gorgeous and attract thousands for a reason– because non-gorgeous places aren’t worth visiting.
Reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms acquaints you with the dreaded reality found in the mud. Months and months of cold, wet weather wore soldiers down. Visiting famous battle sites all over Europe helps you imagine the misery soldiers felt over the centuries.
Their leaders brought them out into a field where they sank in the mud, got covered in it from head to toe, slept in it, and then were told to fight. They had to think… why here? What are we doing? Can’t we just go home?
You can’t see the fields of France, Germany, and Belgium and not think about the military leaders. It had to take serious leadership to keep men motivated to fight in that.
Leading in the Mud
The last 24 hours have been an exercise of pushing forward and through some mud.
My definition of leadership is taking people where they would otherwise not go on their own.
Leadership is an action of the collective will.
- We will go there
- We must go there
- We will go even if its difficult to get there
Right now, I’m leading forward on some things which are facing some forms of resistance.
The details of what I’m pushing through aren’t even relevant to the larger point. Instead, I’m pushing through because the only way to move forward is to push forward and through some stuff.
O, The Stuff
In the past several years I’ve noticed that others tend to get hung up on the stuff and less convicted by the need to push through the stuff.
What’s the stuff? Distractions. Frustrations. Anxiety. Complications. Family life factors. Physical limitations. You know… stuff. Stuff is real. But it stands between where you are and where you need to go... so it’s just stuff to push through, right?
All too often I talk to people who know where they need to go– are truly convicted that they need to press on towards the prize– but they’ve fallen into a fatalistic, over-spiritualization of the stuff.
Too many times we look at the stuff and read into it that since its difficult that God might not want us to push through the stuff. We start off on a journey towards something but as soon as stuff gets difficult we start mislabeling difficulties. (see Myth: God Opens and Closes Doors)
Relentlessly Pushing Forward
When I think of my last 24 hours and some of the stuff… really, it’s “just” stuff to push forward through. (“Just” meaning it’s stuff I can push through, not that the “just” part of it somehow means that its unimportant.) Some of the things were beyond my control, so you roll with them. Other things were things I didn’t know, so you have to make good decisions in the moment about it and press onward. Other things were situations faced because my skill level was too low, so you learn quickly and figure out what to do. Still other stuff is self-inflicted, so you correct that too.
The point of leading somewhere isn’t the stuff you have to overcome to get there. It’s that you overcome the stuff to get where you need to go.