A common expectation for leaders is that they hit the ground running. It’s an odd expectation. It sounds like a D-Day directive, or advice to a fellow hobo jumping off a train, or maybe how Pony Express riders should change horses not to waste time. It’s good advice if you’re one of hundreds following orders to execute a well-planned task quickly.
But for a leader it’s incredibly dangerous.
Why? Because you don’t know which direction to run!
Maybe you’ll run the path your last job required – or run the way your predecessor told you to – or the way you once planned out before you saw the terrain for yourself. How far down one randomly-chosen road will you run before you realize that was the wrong road to take?
For leaders, beginning is the time for patience. You’ll never again have the opportunity to pause and look around as you do right now. This is the first time – maybe the only time – you’ll get to see your group more objectively, and with curiosity in all directions – and with less to defend. Only the leader gets to have that overview – DON’T SQUANDER IT! Only from that perspective can a leader choose her first steps with wisdom.
The first leadership virtue David showed was patience. From the time he was anointed the future king of Israel until his appearance against Goliath, three years passed. David possibly could have tried after his anointing to hit the ground running.
It’s much more likely he took that time to practice patience – to listen, to learn, to ask, to watch, and to pray.
Remember Leo Tolstoy’s quote: “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Like David, wise leaders make time their friend. They practice being patient creatively: watching, asking, connecting, thinking.
Whether you’re a new pastor – a new hire – or a new member of a blended family: cultivate the spirit of patience. Then you will LEAD WITH SPIRIT.