How Do You Lead From the Gutter? With a Rhythm and a Road
How we are all Genghis Khan
I remember reading once this story about Genghis Khan, in which his aide finds him sitting in his tent at the critical point of a battle. The aide asked him what we was doing in his tent and not on the battlefront. He explained that he was angry, and he couldn’t think properly when he was angry.
I’ve been feeling like poor Genghis Khan lately…
There are times when we need to lead, but it seems like our human condition is preventing us from doing so. This applies to All, even if we think that we’re not leaders. If anything, we must lead ourselves, but many of us go beyond that – it’s a basic fact of our lives. We are parents, employers, teachers – we are responsible for more than just ourselves. But how do we lead when we have more than we can handle, when it’s more than we can take, when the heat is on like Genghis Khan? How do we lead from the low point? From the gutter of our human condition?
King David – Personal Leadership before National Leadership
King David put it wonderfully in Psalms 23:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4 NKJV)
His expression here shows deep knowledge of the human condition, of mortality. We are shadowed not only by things like anger, taxes, bills, car trouble, etc. – but by death. But we have two things to guide us through this condition – the rod and the staff.
The rod is what’s used to keep the sheep in line. It is a reference to discipline. There is a shepherd who regularly takes his flock through the field right by my house (yes, I know its 2014 – but this is Jerusalem). He has a rod too.
The staff is leadership – this is where we’re headed. We need both short-term correction and long-term vision to get to where we’re going. This is how we lead others, as we walk together through the valley of the shadow of death.
The original text of this verse uses the Hebrew word “shevet” in reference to the staff. It is a word that also means “scepter” and “tribe.” It seems that the staff is a concept that alludes to identity.
The Rhythm and the Road
So how do we get to where we need to go? How do we cope with mortality? With the human condition? Discipline and identity – the rod and the staff – the rhythm and the road.
The rod – discipline – provides us with regular reminders to get back on the path. I have a pomodoro timer ticking away right now for just that purpose. The staff – identity – shows us where we’re headed, it also shows us where we need to be – where the Shepherd is.
Whenever we plan, we tend to focus on the long-term, and neglect the “rhythm” necessary to get through the short-term.
I encourage you today to take an area of life and examine your long-term road for it. Then review the short-term rhythm that needs to be in place in order for you to get there.