The Slinky was invented (discovered really) by a naval mechanical engineer right after WWII. He was developing instruments for ships when he knocked some coiled steel over, which sprang down upon some books, then onto a table, and finally landed upright on the floor.


Imagine a Slinky traveling down stairs. I heard Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-a, use this as an illustration of successful, lasting leadership. You can watch his talk via the link below. He gives three reasons why the Slinky is the way you should be thinking about your leadership. I think it is a powerful picture of how you can live life.


1. Nothing happens ’til leaders go first. 

What are you wanting to see happen? Take initiative. Make the first move. Are you wanting to see people reaching out more? Then how about you inviting your neighbor over to dinner? Are you wanting to have a culture of service in your home, office, or church? Are you placing the needs of others before your agenda? Are you wanting to see more kindness between people? How consistently kind are you?


This is exactly what Jesus did. He wanted to see humanity restored. He wanted people to have abundant life (John 10:10). He wanted to restore that which had been lost (Luke 19:10). To recreate humanity into what he desired, he had to go first. And he did. This is what Philippians 2 beautifully describes: “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself.”


Jesus made the first move. He became what he wants us to be. Initiative is one of God’s chief attributes.


2. Leaders develop followers. 

The Slinky works because of connection. Cathy says, “Leaders intentionally endear themselves to others.” This doesn’t happen by accident. I think the operative word in “leaders develop followers” is not leaders or followers, but develop. This speaks of intentionality.


The Slinky is a great picture of how to get those connected to you to follow: descend. Be vulnerable. Be humble. Allow yourself to fall down. Patrick Lencioni has written how connection, trust, and vulnerability work together. There is a great clip from a presentation below.


Again, we see this in Jesus. He was intentional about connecting with a small group of people. I already mentioned how he humbled himself into humanity as Philippians 2 expresses. And I think the epitome of Slinky living, connecting servanthood and developing followers, is seen as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. In John 13:15, after demonstrating such vulnerability by disrobing, says, “Do as I have done for you.”


Also, Jesus demonstrated vulnerability and intentionally connected himself to humanity in Gethsemane. In Matthew 26:39, even though he was perfect, he still made the request whether there was another way to complete his mission. The phrase “never let them see you sweat” did not come from Jesus.


3. Followers become leaders. 

Success is succession. Are you building a team? A Slinky doesn’t work because the head keeps pulling everything into action. Momentum only occurs because at some point it is hard to identify which end is the head and which is the tail.


What move will you make right now?

How will you be more vulnerable?

Who will you bring into the action today?




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