Life is a journey, not a destination.
You might think it was Steven Tyler, the screaming wide-mouth singer of Aerosmith, who first penned those words from the 90’s rock ballad, “Amazing.” You would be wrong; he only made them popular. A different poet is credited as the author. His name is Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American wordsmith from Massachusetts during the 1800’s.
While few know its true origin, the phrase itself is wildly popular. It’s like a California wildfire. It consumes far reaching lands and rarely leaves a hint of where it started. If you were to ask someone who has suffered from a fire like this, usually they will tell you about the immediate impact they experienced—not how or where the fire began.
People who are impacted by other people respond the same way. A small group facilitator may be very instrumental in your development as a Christian, but you may never know who was responsible for his growth.
We are all among a long line of people who journey through life making differences in the lives of others. Some, like Emerson, make an impact without ever being widely recognized for it. Most people may never know about Emerson, but they will certainly contemplate that life is a journey, not a destination.
Good leaders learn life is not the only journey. So is leadership.
This time last year, I humbly accepted the challenge to make small changes in the lives of others in our church. It was a solemn role as a leader for the Wednesday night Bible study ministry called The Journey. I prayerfully designed a mission and objectives for anyone who would be willing to serve.
Our first day found only 30 or so committed gatherers. Nine months later, we are averaging more than a hundred in attendance. Our team has grown from three to more than ten. Our efforts are stronger and our reach is wider. Though numbers were not our primary concern, we have found them to be a good indicator of growth.
Throughout this period of growth, I have learned the value of being a silent servant as a leader—one who impacts without identification. The mission and objectives I designed have been implemented by others who impact those who may never know where the designs originated.
Being a silent servant means impact without identification.
This is one of many things to learn in the journey of leadership. Like life, it is not a destination. There is always more to learn. For now, even if it is by the miscredit of a wildly popular phrase, we can learn that impact requires Ralph Waldo Emersons and Steven Tylers.