“Trails are managed as part of the natural environment. Visitors must be prepared to meet and accept nature on it’s own terms.”
I passed this sign countless times along an all too familiar trail, but never really read it. For some reason it stopped me in my tracks this time and it’s message was as clear as it was challenging. Here are four simple takeaways for us as leaders of any organization, especially churches.
1 – “Trails are managed…” Things aren’t just going to get better because you show up. You and your team will have to pray, process, plan, and get it done with perseverance for there to be lasting change and preferred outcomes along the way. Own it. It’s your trail… for the moment.
2 – “…as part of the natural environment.” How you find the environment of the organization you are leading is only natural. No one said it was optimal, just a natural part of the life in a broken world (i.e. purposed to chaotic, visionary to stagnate, etc). Quit taking things so personal and simply take personal responsibility for what your organization is and will become.
3 – “Visitors must be prepared…” In other words, we are stewards, not owners. Even if you planted the church or started the business, someone else will replace you. Let this humble you and challenge you to be prepared day in and day out, and do your best as you invest in people with every interaction. The very trail this sign is on was once native american tribal land, then a regional center of colonial life, then a thriving resort, now a national landmark known as Fort Boonesboro.
4 – “…to meet and accept nature on it’s own terms.” It’s time to do this in your organization and to keep doing this daily as it evolves and grows through the natural cycles of all organizations. You will vision, work, grow, plateau, decline and eventually die unless you continually and creatively (stubbornly) face the realities, embrace change, and reinvent all while holding fast to the bedrock principles that guide you.
How is your church or business really doing? Don’t just pass the signs that are right in front of you. Stop. Read them and realize that how you apply their guiding words and where this trail leads you and your organization will be up to you.