Don’t Point Out the Mud…
…unless you’re willing to get your hands dirty.
Often, the mark of a leader is that they see things others can’t see just yet. They notice how the present reality falls short of the original vision.
But there’s a certain hubris that comes with a leader who points out the problem without being willing to help solve the problem.
I experienced that myself recently. After showing up at a campus, it became evident that our volunteer numbers were struggling. I was in the process of very “helpfully” pointing that out to a team leader, and as the words were coming out of my mouth, all of the reasons for the struggle began pinging my brain: the campus leader was out for a family situation. The substitute leader was brand new to the role. We were experiencing a ridiculously heavy Sunday in terms of attendance, so even a well-staffed team would’ve felt like it was falling short.
And in that moment, I realized I had a choice: I could be content to point out the mud and walk away, or I could get my hands dirty.
If I’m honest, I wanted to do the former. I had plenty of self-invented justifications for why pointing out the problem didn’t mean it was my problem.
But in his grace, God nudged me to do the latter. So I set aside my plans for the morning and jumped in to help.
I hate to think of the number of times I’ve chosen the opposite: This is wrong. This should be fixed. You should make this change. And then I walk away, as if my Captain Obvious insights were actually (a) novel or (b) helpful.
Granted, leaders don’t always have the choice of getting into the mud at the moment. Sometimes there are competing things on the agenda that demand our attention even more than the mud we pointed out.
But the posture should be there. The willingness to serve should be present. And a leader’s typical response should be, “Hey. There’s mud. Let me grab some boots and get in there with you.”