This is not how I would do it.

I am the best leader I know
One of the hardest things about being a leader is the burden of always being right. It seems that whatever group of people I am working with, I have the best ideas and know what should happen next. When I am the true leader of every part of something, like my student ministry, I get to fully live into my brilliance. But most of the time I am sharing leadership with others who, in their mind, is also the smartest person in the room.

In the church context, we have senior pastors who are leaders doing the best they can. As youth workers we love to sit back and judge what a poor job they are doing and share that with others so our friends know how brilliant we are, and dumb they are.

In a missions context, we share leadership with a local church or organization that has come up with a plan that makes total sense to them. Because it is missions it seems like our definitions of best and smart are quite different. Let's be honest, the plan they come up, pales compared to my brilliance. And because I am insecure I don't want those around me to think that their poor idea is mine. To make this clear, the easiest solution is to blow up their obvious incompetence with my friends and those I lead.

Lets be honest for a second. While we know that this is actually poor leadership and you have enjoyed judging my self-righteousness, the truth is every leader I know is tempted to put others down in order to prove their own abilities and brilliance. But proving our brilliance is not the task of leadership.

Being the smartest guy in the room is not good leadership
Providing for, and shaping experiences so students will encounter Christ and partner more fully in the work of God is our task. For this to happen we have to take ourselves out of the mix. We must discern the heart of God in every curve ball we are thrown and help our students live into that.

The picture at the top of this post is the awful construction work our students are doing. One by one, students are hauling block and bags of gravel a quarter mile up a road to the place where the actual construction is happening. 10's of thousands of pounds of materials, one by one.

In 5 seconds I had a dozen solutions to efficiently move the pile of materials from point A to point B. After 10 minutes if attempting to help the process, I realized it was going to be a no go. For four days we were going to move this pile from point A to point B.

My natural leadership ability is to walk alongside my students, roll my eyes, and patronize those dummies for making us do this all week. You see, I don't want them to know this is my idea. But good leadership is helping our students live into the larger story of what they are doing. There is no way a family could move all this material by themselves. How pig headed to assume that they even have access to a truck. We are to be a blessing to others, to bring God's mercy and grace. And I am pretty sure that doing this well has nothing to do with me and my teams perception of my brilliance.

May we all be shock absorbers and buffers of grace when those we lead with lead differently the us. When those around us, those we partner with, those whom we must serve under don't live up to our expectations, may we have grace and serve them well. Because the truth is, everyone we lead has the same judgements about our leadership.

I am sorry that my students are hiking materials for four day, but I am thankful that I caught myself in time and didn't down talk our ministry partners so that our students could fully love, serve, and enjoy every part of this trip. Pray that they would have the strength to finish well. (Last day!)