I fly a lot. Because of that, I take comfort in the fact that airplane emergencies are rare these days. This statistical fact is due to safety protocols, mechanical redundancies, and well-trained professional pilots and flight attendants. Nevertheless, emergencies—or at least potential emergencies—do occur. After having flown thousands upon thousands of miles, I have just recently experienced my first in-air mechanical emergency requiring that the plane be diverted immediately to the closest airport for landing. Not long into a seemingly normal flight, the flight attendant went into a serious and sober crisis announcement mode, letting all of the passengers know of the required change of landing strips and the potential risks of a mechanical emergency. She quickly reviewed with the now-nervous passengers the proper position to brace for impact and asked us to stow all baggage and accessories, even eyeglasses. As the plane descended to the landing strip, I looked out to see emergency vehicles with lights flashing lining the adjacent runways.
Needless to say since I’m writing this, the plane landed without incident.
Afterward, I of course spent more than a few moments in reflection, praising God for His provision of safety. I must be honest that I also played a bit of the mental “what if” game, thinking through how a fatal crash landing might have affected my wife, kids, friends, and others. And as a leader of a conference of churches with employees, budgets, a board, committees, and goals, I considered what might have happened to the office and the conference.
Candidly, I found great comfort, even if it was only comfort in a hypothetical, in knowing that in terms of the NAB International Office and board, a great group of leaders were in place to lead the conference.
Through my experience of an emergency landing, I was reminded that great leadership occurs in a community of faithful leaders. Both theologically and practically, I increasingly believe that spiritual leadership is never singular, individualistic, or isolated.
Our Western culture, with its strong leanings toward individualism, tends to point to the leadership myth of the lonely hero, staring down the enemy like a gunslinger waiting for the clock tower to strike noon. Rugged, fearless, and alone is the way our culture sees leaders.
Biblical leadership flows out of a community of leaders who trust God. The apostle Paul’s metaphor of the church as a body, with all parts both important and connected, is highly informative for us. Didn’t Moses lean on Joshua and Aaron for support? Didn’t Paul travel with various companions? And why did the early church’s leadership continue to meet in the temple together?
Biblical leadership seems to occur frequently in a plurality of others—loving God and serving side by side.
So who are you recruiting, mentoring, and equipping to be in a faith community of believers who walk on this leadership journey with you? Who are you encouraging to walk with you, and not merely behind you?
NAB Executive Director