(“Best of” blog) This post was written when we moved from Houston, to Columbia, South Carolina almost five years ago. We are still delighted to be in our new church family and home. The lessons in how we can see a new hope and a future and move people there and keep them inspired are still fresh.
After months of transition, job search, selling a home, finding a home, a month of living with delightful, incredibly generous friends while we wait for the new home sale to close, we have finally, actually, irrevocably MOVED. What seemed so daunting and risky and unknown has become, step by step, reality. Actually, God is in the business of moving us all from HERE to THERE. And as Bill Hybels pointed out at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last week: the essence of leadership is to lead people from HERE, the current reality, to THERE, the much preferred future.
Whether the people are a family, a circle of friends or an entire church or organization, leadership is about describing how what could be over THERE is far more valuable/satisfying/people and God pleasing than the way things are HERE.
Like many people, I was more than satisfied with the old HERE. I wasn’t looking for a new THERE in the least. Surrounded by a lifetime network of friends and family I felt rooted and secure. But God has this way of uprooting us. Disrupting our routine. Grabbing our attention. MOVING us.
So he cranks up the heat.
In the same way, Hybels said, a good leader cranks up the heat when the people need to move. He paints the picture of what THERE looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like. Bringing the unfocused possibility into sharp definition. Not just telling but showing how much value it will add to peoples’ lives. Even more important than making THERE sound wonderful a good leader shows how HERE is not acceptable. In fact it’s awful. It breaks the heart of God.
When the vision is fresh or when the goal line is in sight we can keep moving with motivation and expectation. But in the middle of the journey, when we hit boredom or challenges, progress can stop. The entire vision for moving from HERE to THERE becomes imperiled. People forget how bad it was HERE and how wonderful it will be when they reach THERE. Vision always leaks from our bucket and a leader has to refill it much more often than we are inclined to believe.
Hybels urges us to look to Jesus, who closely monitored the inspiration level of his followers and went to great lengths to inspire them when their momentum flagged. Jesus knew the value of inspiration. Hybels cited a source saying that an inspired volunteer, friend or team member is 40% more productive than one who is uninspired.
As a leader we can inspire others by telling stories of success and celebrating forward movement. Don’t wait until the finish line to THERE is crossed. Celebrate the mile-markers. Turn set backs into a cause for celebration that, by God’s mercy, the journey continues toward the goal.
And how is the leaders’ heart and vision torched? As God speaks through his word and quiet whispers about the journey and the destination, as we see God at work moving out before us, we can follow his lead in confidence. We can pour into others what God pours into us.
God has acted so boldly on our behalf that it feels much more like a shout than a whisper. There is nothing more inspiring than seeing God at work moving us out. Opening doors. Working in the details. At times, in the middle of this move my enthusiasm for executing the details has flagged. Most of moving is administrative and organizational detail, a giant drag on my big picture, creative soul.
But we have celebrated so many mile markers in the process (cake and banner at Jack’s first Sunday, dinners to celebrate when our former home sold/closed, more celebrations when our new home closed. So many people from our new church coming to help paint and unpack—virtually an unpacking party on moving day)
One mile marker and a party. Another and a dinner. And here we are, crossing the finish line in great spirits. Once we found the remote control for the pump on our air bed we pumped it up and moved in. (Warning to anyone moving with a Select Comfort mattress—pack the remote in your suitcase for move-in day) Box counts are steadily declining. We are finally home and filled with joy and anticipation of what God will do in our new THERE.