When I was 17 years old, I got the privilege of driving my dad’s race car during the time trials on a full-fledged race track. I had walked the track many times growing up and I felt comfortable navigating the car on it’s wide lane. My strategy as a 17 year old was simple: push the gas pedal down as hard as you can and drive FAST. After all, that’s racing, right? The faster the better.
So, that afternoon, I pulled the car just over the edge from the pits to the track and did just what I had planned to do…I punched it. And just to say it, my strategy worked like a charm out of the gate! But then something interesting happened when I came to the first corner…I had to slam on my brakes because I was coming into the corner too fast. I hit the brakes in a panic realizing that I had misjudged the leverage it would take to turn. I lost all momentum because my strategy failed me.
Now, I had watched hundreds of races in my life. I grew up at the races every Saturday night, often times falling asleep on my mom’s lap as a young girl. I would eventually get a job selling programs as an elementary student and then move into the concession stand where I would sell sausages boiled in beer and nachos soaked in spicy cheese. I knew the race track, I knew the cars, and I knew who the winners and the losers were. I was “trained” in the ways of the race track, but when it came time to race, I relied more on that training-from-the-stands and less on what mattered the most: instincts.
As pastors, we can make the same mistake. We are trained in leadership, we are surrounded by leaders, we think we know how to lead, but we miss the most valuable key…our natural instincts that are divinely birthed in the heart of a pastor by God.
What I should have done that day is let my instincts drive that car rather than relying on what I thought I had been taught for all of those years. I should have pushed the gas to the right measure where I could let up at the corner and kept my momentum through the next stretch. I may not have started out as fast, but in the long run, I would have been much faster overall. And as I began to trust those instincts, I am sure that at some point, I would have navigated that track flawlessly.
My instincts, partnered with my training and familiarity, and practice would have been the perfect combination.
Pastors – it can be tempting to think that one more leadership tip will be the answer…if you just hang around one more great leader, something will rub off on you…sure, do that. But in the midst of that strategy, stop and ask yourself what your gut is telling you. Maybe when all of the leadership training says to punch it, the voice of God deep inside of you says to let up and rest because the next stretch is coming. Maybe you should feel the power of your church around you and begin to listen to what it needs at that moment. You will be surprised that most of the time you will know exactly what you need to do and it’s probably not written in that book you’re reading.
The real question…will you have the guts to listen to your gut?