Rumor has it that I may get a GPS system for my birthday. The parents of our youth are thinking of buying it for me as token of appreciation for the late nights we have endured together. That or they just don’t want me to get lost again. Let me explain.

A Friday night not too long ago, our youth group went on an unexpected road trip. After an inspiring youth service in a nearby town, we did our usual thing. We went to a local restaurant with friends from other churches. To get to the restaurant we made a left, a right, and, finally, a u-turn. After some food and fun, we got into the vans, cranked up the radio, and went on our merry way.

The road darkened. Towns with strange names crossed our path. “Why is it taking so long?” I wondered. Something didn’t feel right. Smithsville. “Smithsville?” LaGrange. “I don’t remember passing a LaGrange.” Then, a familiar sign: Columbus, TX. “Hey, wait a minute. I know that place. Isn’t that where we go to summer youth camp!?”

I, the courageous leader, had led our caravan of wondering nomads eighty miles in the wrong direction.

As quickly and discreetly (discreetly!?) as I could I made a u-turn. “What’s going on?” my precious followers asked. “Well, uh,” I stammered, “everyone…you need to call your parents. We’re going to be a little late.” An hour an a half late to be exact. We didn’t make it back home until 2:00AM in the morning. Some parents were smiling when we returned, most were not.

But the road trip wasn’t a total loss. Like I mentioned before, it looks like I’ll get a free GPS system out of all of this. And, on top of that, I learned some valuable lessons from the road.

• Proceed with caution in new places.
• When the road darkens and something doesn’t feel right, stop and reconsider your direction.
• Followers will trust where you lead and will generally go along for the ride, wherever you take them. (That’s scary.)
• Allow your followers to question you. They just might keep you on track.
• Admit your mistakes and correct them as soon as possible. The longer you wait to admit your mistakes and make changes, the farther you will go from where you need to be.
• Change begins with the leader. Others may change direction, but only the leader will be able to change the direction of the whole group at once.
• Quickly communicate with everyone affected by the change.
• Don’t beat yourself up once you get back on track, and don’t get frustrated when you cover ground you have already covered. You’ll get where you need to be, eventually.
• Some may get frustrated with you. Others will smile and realize that we all make mistakes from time to time.
Walk humbly with those who are frustrated (after all it is your fault). Cherish those who understand.

I hope that you, too, courageous leader, glean wisdom from my wonderings.

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