Grounded Leadership

By Chad Hershberger

I don’t have much experience with fishing. When I was a child, I remember my grandfather taking us fishing at the local Lion’s Club pond. My first week as a camp counselor, I supervised fishing camp and put worms on hooks and sat by the shoreline, watching my boys.

When you fish, you put a lead sinker on the end of the line and then cast the line. The lead sinker would take the line directly down to the focal point—the bottom of the pond. The purpose of the lead at the end of the fishing line is to position that bait where you want it to be, specifically where you think the fish might be.

Good leaders, particularly Christian leaders, must be grounded. They need to be like that lead sinker, positioning themselves on their focal point, Christ. As Christian leaders, we want other people to see that Christ is our anchor. I think of the story of Jesus and Peter from Matthew 14, verse 22-33. Peter walked on the water and kept his eyes focused on Jesus. When he did that, he was able to achieve his task of walking across the water. But, when he allowed his attention to be focused on his surroundings, and he looked at the storm, the waves, and the seat, he lost his power and strength and began to sink. To be strong leaders, we need to keep our eyes on Christ, be anchored in Jesus, and look for the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding us.

To be rooted in Jesus and the Gospel, it is important for us to know what we truly believe and how those beliefs guide our vision for the future for our churches or organizations. We might ask the question, “What is God’s mission for us?” That will make us look at our mission from God’s perspective, not from our own. To determine that answer, you might look at your own passions and philosophies. What do you get excited about? Where do you sense eagerness and energy in your context? As you look at that, you might begin to see what is behind all that you do. What are some of your guiding beliefs and principles?

I think it’s important that leaders be able to articulate what they believe and how their philosophy in life drives what they do. If you haven’t thought about your beliefs and philosophy for a while, now might be the time to do that. You can start by asking yourself questions like, “What do you believe?” “What are some of the guiding principles that drive your work?” “What would you say if you wrote your own creed?”

In the coming months, our camp board is going to be doing some of these exercises. We are going to reexamine our mission, vision, and values for CML and be reminded of the guiding principles and philosophies of our organization. If you’ve been reading some of our history blog posts, you’ll see that what we are all about at camp has not really changed in the last 60 years. How we deliver on those foundations has. How about you as a leader? How do you live out those guiding lead sinkers in your life?