A Lesson on Leadership

By: Darlene Hutto
March 20, 2017

“Often we think leadership is leading from the front. Sometimes leadership means staying back to ensure that no one gets left behind.”

During seminary, I went on a spiritual retreat that involved a reflective hike.

As a hiking novice, I purchased new hiking boots, dry wicking socks, and a backpack. In the spirit of being prepared, I loaded up my backpack with six bottles of water and snacks.

As the hike began, I noticed the group getting further and further ahead of me. I was slow and weighed down. I didn’t quite know how to ask for help, but decided to stay the course although my group was long out of sight.

It wasn’t long before my seminary colleague, Leslie Raymer, noticed that I had fallen back. Being the outdoor and adventurous kind, she asked, “what are you carrying?” I showed her all of my supplies and she noted I needed to lighten my load. She took some of the water I brought and then went to see how far ahead the others were. Leslie divided the water among the others to carry. When she returned, she suggested I take a break before heading back down the trail reassuring me that the others would catch up with me to finish the hike.

I learned a lot of things that day about myself and hiking.

1. You don’t hike with new hiking boots. I had terrible blisters.

2. Less is more.

Bag lady you gone hurt your back

Dragging all them bags like that

I guess nobody ever told you

All you must hold onto, is you, is you, is you.

3.Leadership isn’t always about being in front.

While the blisters healed and the aches from carrying too much eventually disappeared, Leslie shared a bit of wisdom that has remained with me to this day.

“Often we think leadership is leading from the front. Sometimes leadership means staying back to ensure that no one gets left behind.”

In our fight to raise a generation of faithful leaders who will bring healing and hope to our communities, it will require all leaders on deck. Some of you may be called to lead from the front while others of you may be called to journey with the masses. Wherever you find yourself being called to lead, take a moment from time-to-time to look back and consider those who may seem too burdened or too slow.




Photo: Scott Ableman

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud


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