Through Sorrow to Joy

There is a lot of learning needed to lead successfully and maybe even more to follow whole-heartily. Doing both well involves moving through sorrow to joy.

Both leading and following operate in a social space where courage, deep commitment and flexibility are needed. One minute you lead and the next you follow, always operating as a servant, driven by a freedom in Christ that makes us slaves of one another (Ephesians 6:6, Colossians 3:24,1 Peter 2:16).

Five lessons I continue to learn about leading and following:

1.    Both have to deal with the Strain of the New. Christian leaders and followers show their true colors as they “endure” the toil and trauma of “start ups.” This takes a different form of courage than most have experience with. They will have to delicately work through self-doubt and confusion and ambiguities. To be able to see a new thing, get traction with new thinking, or follow old patterns into a new logic or a new schema, they will have to find resolve to push through. Trusting new thinking or new ways without being gullible or naive is like walking on a tensions line. Rarely does something new have lots of support nor a huge IPO and NEVER comes with guaranteed success. We may fail, but even being wrong is better than being afraid or pathetically inactive.

My prayer for myself and you is that you can accept the feedback that comes through whispered doubts, negativity, and cautions and avoid two extremes: never listening to those and ONLY hearing them. Listen and learn but, and this is what makes this process so difficult, don’t let that kill your spirit of initiative.

REMEMBER: GOD SEES EVERYTHING!!! HE KNOWS YOUR WORK!!! HE IS PLEASED WITH INITIATIVE!!! Zechariah 4: 10 has been great encouragement to me:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the Lord that search all around the world

2.    Both require us to make choices that may hurt us but benefit others. Christian leaders and followers eventually learn the truth of Jesus: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). That is a tough call…isn’t it. A decision to lead and follow well will lead to the need to make sacrifice–time, fame, respect, money, energy, even maybe your life–to help others reach a better place, a grace place, and freedom to live, lead and follow well.

3.    Will be misunderstood. We forget Jesus’ many reminders that the world won’t understand us. Followers and leaders who are doing it the Jesus way will face deep misunderstanding. Followers will be maligned as blind or kiss ups. Leaders will be misunderstood as ambitious, self-serving or fame seeker (and at times they may fall under such Satanic spell, but as they follow Christ, they will be rescued from such stupidity). As confusing as leading and following can be, the real disease of poor understanding is that of the arm-chair spectators who are unwilling to lead or follow and therefor are not learning.

4.  Work through humiliation. Christ was successful especially when he was humiliated and refrained from retaliation. Humiliation is the hard stuff both followers and leaders will experience that spectators will never know. It doesn’t feel good. It never does!!! But we can handle it because Christ’s victory over humiliation HE will GIVE to us who follow him.

So by now you are probably wonder why this blog is so negative.

Here is the punch line. Why go through all this difficult stuff?

Because what grows from it is glorious.

5.  Joy comes through it all.  Hebrews 12:12 put it succinctly:

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We follow and lead through all the difficult stuff because of a vision or joy that sustains us.

If you get discouraged, just remember, don’t be discouraged even about being discouraged!!!! God can even help you through that. You have too much to learn as you seek to lead and follow in ways that serve.

Heed Martina McBride’s good advice:


You can spend your whole life buildin’
Somethin’ from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway.
You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anywayChorus….
God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway

You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
love ’em anywayChorus….
God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anywayYou can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yeah, sing it anyway
I sing, I dream, I love

Both leading and following requires one to operate in a new social space with more risks, uncertainties, and ambiguities,  but God is great and will never leave us nor forsake us.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.