I don’t get to do it very often, but I love to shoot a bow… as in compound or recurve, not as in Duke (Gen X joke 🙂
TD Jakes reminded me of something from my memories of being taught how to shoot a bow and arrow as a young man that I think is very relevant to leadership…
The hard part of shooting a bow is the retraction. Pulling back on a compound bow takes quite a little bit of strength. You have to compress the bow, keep tension on the bowstring, and retract, retract, retract. Back it up! You have to keep this tension on through the aiming process. Then, and only then, comes the release… when the stored energy from the retraction releases the arrow to flight (hopefully) on target.
As a leader, I sometimes forget that release never comes before retraction… or, in church terms, the crown never comes before the cross. I am convinced that inherent in the concept of leadership is service, and inherent in the concept of service is suffering. Therefore, at least some part of leadership is about suffering. We have to be retracted by God before we have any real power to release people or organizations toward the target.
That means that my aim is improved by my agony… and causes me to ask myself "Have I been pulled back far enough to earn the right to know that it is only my retracted position that produces power?" Have I suffered enough as a leader to be able to lead others correctly? No matter the context – leading a family, a business, or a church – all require servanthood. Christ called it carrying your cross. I have to be pulled back until ready to be released. And that hurts, but it is the essence of the exercise.