I was reading in the book of Judges about a military leader named Gideon. He and his men had routed an enemy army the night before and were subsequently pursuing the remnant who had fled.
As I reflected on this incident, it prompted some thoughts on leadership in the midst of a pursuit. I found it has application for us as leaders today.
The specific text what caught my attention was Judges 8:4 which reads…
Let me break down my leadership observations according to the key words and phrases of the text.
5 C’s to Consider:
- Gideon and his 300 men – Their Camaraderie. Gideon was not alone. He was with a team who was pursuing something together. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that “leadership is lonely.” My question is, “Why?”
It’s lonely only when the leader has not recruited, developed, and shared leadership with a team. This is not to say that Gideon was not THE leader of the team. Leadership by committee is not what we’re talking about here. Someone has to be the leader among leaders.
Yet, when that leader also shares leadership with qualified teammates, it makes for a healthy and productive team. Are you alone or with comrades in your leadership pursuits?
Exhausted- Their Condition. Gideon and his men had battled all through the night and then had picked up the pursuit of the retreating army. They were understandably tired. What stands out to me with the text is that it was stated that they were exhausted.
I find many leaders are either going so hard and fast that they don’t even recognize the state of their condition or they are simply in denial. Recognizing how we’re doing doesn’t mean we have to quit. But it does bring a reality factor into play which needs to be considered.
We need to ask, “What are my pursuits (my leadership responsibilities, my projects, my spouse, my children, etc.) and what is my real condition in that pursuit?
Yet keeping up the pursuit – Their Commitment. The word “yet” shows contrast. Despite their condition, that of being exhausted, their commitment was to keep up the pursuit.
Why are commitments important? Because they are almost always in contrast to our condition. When we are tired, discouraged, wanting to quit, a key to whether we will be successful in our leadership pursuits or not is to remember the commitments we had made in the beginning.
Before we were tired or discouraged or hurt, what was it that got us started? This gives us perspective. Am I remembering why this particular pursuit is worthwhile?
Came to the Jordan – Their Challenge. As an infantry without boats, bridges or helicopters, coming to a river would present a real challenge to their pursuit. As leaders, we must remember that every commitment we make will be challenged. Either from within or without, challenges are real and commonplace.
Yet, I find that many leaders are surprised by this. Whether it’s due to the nobility of their cause or simply to naïveté, many leaders don’t expect challenges and are therefore caught short in an appropriate response to a challenge. It throws them off balance and therefore impact their pursuit.
Leaders must expect challenges. What are the challenges to your current leadership pursuits?
And crossed it – Their Choice. What could they have done given their condition and challenge? Even remembering their commitment to the pursuit, they could have simply chosen to stop. To say, “It’s just not worth it. We’re too tired. The cost is too high.”
We need more than stated commitments. These are important. Yet, ultimately, the measure of your leadership (and I would go so far as to say the measure of your life) is not so much in the commitments you make but in the choices you take.
They chose to be true to their commitments, face their challenges in spite of their condition, and move ahead.
As a leader today, what are your pursuits? Are you going at them alone or with a team of comrades? Realistically, what’s your condition? Is it in contrast to your commitments? What are the real challenges you’re facing? And then it all boils down to what choice are you making?