Leaders Are Always Drifting or Driving

Leaders Are Always Drifting or Driving

I recently signed up for a streaming radio service. I had this service before and cancelled it so I wasn’t sure what I would find. I came across “The Message,” a Christian station, as if on cue, the host said: “Our challenges either drive us towards or cause us to drift further away from God.”  It must have been the right time for me to hear this message.

I face problems, pains, and challenges just like everyone else. I sometimes feel overwhelmed and lost. I can clearly see the challenge in front of me but don’t seem capable of reacting to or responding correctly to them. We all go through situations that challenge our faith, but 2 Timothy 3:16-17, VOICE, reminds us:

“All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work.” 

As a child, I did things that made sense from a child’s perspective. I did things without thinking about consequences; sometimes I still do. I once tied a towel around my neck and jumped from the top of the stairs. You guessed it, instead of flying like Superman, I went to the Emergency Room for stitches. My parents tapped me on the side of the head; it was their way of telling me to think, and hearing those words on the radio, I felt that same tapping. I felt like God was trying to get my attention; telling me to stop, listen and think. Suddenly, I wasn’t just driving.

I wasn’t thinking about my problems, but about white-water rafting. In rafting, there are two environments: it is always one or the other. We are either drifting in calm waters or driving through the rapids, each requiring a different response. In calm waters, we stop paddling and drift. We aren’t facing immediate danger, so we relax surrounded by nature’s beauty. The serenity is so captivating it makes us feel like we’re not moving. But we know it’s an illusion. Even when we don’t paddle, the current moves us. In the rapids, we don’t have time to relax. We work hard to stay on course or risk the water overtaking us. We use our paddles, each coordinated stroke, driving us through the water. We emerge feeling what sportscaster Jim McKay described as the “the thrill of victory.”

White-water rafting can, symbolically, represent our leadership and lifestyles. When things are going well, we often take our paddles out of the water. We lift our hands and drift. We harbor the illusion that everything will be fine if we just leave it alone. We cling to the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  

It may feel good but drifting often creates more problems for us. Drifting can cause complacency. At work, drifting may cause us to lose sight of our goals. In our relationships, drifting creates distance making us feel less connected to each other. In fact, distance causes isolation and loss of intimacy, cited as a contributor in break-ups and divorce. Drifting pushes us away from our goals, often pushing us into the rapids.

In the rapids, we can’t afford the luxury of drifting. We experience an adrenaline high in the middle of chaos and struggle. Our attention is laser focused and we move with purpose. Yet, we know that eventually we will become fatigued. We try not to waste our movements, conserving energy for the struggle’s duration. In the rapids, we are more willing to seek and accept help from others; especially those in the same raft or boat. Our goal isn’t just to find calm water; it’s to get out of the water altogether.

Have you ever noticed we pay more attention to our health after a serious incident, like a heart attack, than we did before? Have you noticed our faith and prayers are less intense and enthusiastic when we drift or aren’t in the rapids? Why is this? In his sermon, Drifting Along, Pastor Steve Kinnard warns us that “complacency leads to destruction.”  He says:

“In our Christian walk, we can keep going until we receive the prize that God promises us, or we can get lazy and drift our way into destruction.”

To lead like Jesus, you don’t have the luxury of drifting; you must remain focused driving to fulfill your mission. You must anchor yourself in Him. His promise is in Isaiah 43:2 (TLB):

When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you. “

Challenge:  How do you stop drifting? One way is to anchor yourself in God. Simply stated, go back to the basics. Work to create an environment that reinforces your goals: read the Bible, seek people that challenge and move you out of complacency and look for opportunities to serve others. We find, in returning to basics (C. Groeschel,  Weird: Because Normal Isn't Working, (2014):

“Instead of drifting away from God, you'll be firmly anchored, able to swim against the tide, offering living water to all you meet.”

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Gilbert Camacho

Gilbert Camacho serves as President, Organizational Leadership Solutions, a management consulting firm, based in Melbourne, Florida.  Gilbert is a certified Lead Like Jesus Facilitator with extensive leadership experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  He has been a contributing author to the Lead Like Jesus Blog for almost 3 years writing monthly on such issues as servant leadership, accountability, trust and integrity.  Gilbert s a sought-after Speaker, Trainer, and Executive Coach.  Gilbert is a Registered Shared Neutral (Mediator) with the State Supreme Court of Georgia.  He recently retired an Associate Director for the Human Resources Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  Gilbert has been married to his best friend, Annie, for almost 40 years.  Together they have raised two beautiful daughters, Holley and Logan. 

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