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“The speed of the leader,” Emerson said, “determines the rate of the pack.” Leaders lead by example—whether intentionally or not. Jesus was comfortable leading by example. He said, “Follow me.” Paul was comfortable leading by example. He said, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” It wasn’t a pitch or a plan that was laid out, but the example of a life.

It is much more common to see a Pharisaical approach to leadership. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Some leaders readily admit not living up to the standard proffered. It’s almost presented as credentials of humility to say, “Now, I admit I don’t live up to what I’m proposing, but you have to admit it’s a good idea. You should do it, even though I don’t.” What a hollow leadership approach.

I have been challenged by this personally at home. I have been impatient with the kids. I would call it snappy. Jamie would call it harsh. The kids say I’m mean. When I want something stopped or I want something done, if I don’t see action, I can be merciless. But if the kids are fighting with each other, I patently call for patience. I may (or may not) get them to obey, but in either case my authority doesn’t ring true.

I think it’s true, the speed of a leader will be the speed of the pack. When my kids wonder what level of patience will be expected of them, my level of patience comes to mind. So when I’m frustrated about some action or lack of action, the assessment of the situation needs to start with me.

What can’t you say “Follow me” about? “Follow my passion. Follow my risk-taking. Follow my balance. Contribute as I contribute. Serve like I serve. Persevere like I persevere. Be open like I am open with you. Be devoted like I am devoted to you. Be truthful with me like I am truthful with you.” Why should we ever expect higher levels of anything from anyone, than we are willing to carry out ourselves? Speed of the leader, speed of the pack.

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