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Leadership Reflections – TOM

Leadership Reflections –Tom

Lately it seems that I’ve been doing a lot of travelling in my car. Over the last few weeks I’ve been in cities and towns from New Hampshire down to North Carolina. I’ve become very good at spotting the gas stations and fast food places that are right off the exit so I don’t have to venture too far off the beaten path.

Along with my Dunkin Donuts coffee, bagel with chive cream cheese, pile of folders and my blackberry, there is another very important passenger that has been joining me on my journeys. It’s none other than my GPS, I call him “TOM”.

Now Tom’s voice actually sounds like a woman’s voice, but since it’s a Tom Tom brand, I figured I’d just stick with the obvious and call him Tom.

I’ve thought about downloading another voice for him to join me on my treks, but so far I’m sticking with the default settings.

I recently found out though that I could have the voice of Mr. T as my GPS guide, but then I thought about what it would sound like if I went against his directions and chose my own route. Would I hear “I pity the fool who doesn’t obey my directions”, or “I’m gonna bust you up?” insert Rocky’s response “Go for it”.

Or I also thought about doing what my friend did with his GPS. He downloaded a voice that sounded like his wife’s voice and every time he didn’t follow the outlined route the GPS would sigh and say in a rather put out manner “recalculating”. He said he always wanted to make sure he thought of his wife while he was travelling.

Anyway, as I’ve been driving all over the Northeast lately, I’ve found myself relying heavily on what Tom has to say. It’s gotten to the point where I just punch in the address and head out to wherever he tells me to go.

The other day I got to thinking about that. Why do I put so much trust in the direction that Tom says is the right direction? What if what he says to do is the wrong way, or not the best way? How do I know that what he says won’t lead me to some abandoned warehouse in a rough part of town?

You know, I don’t really know the answers to those questions, I’m inputting data and based on that data, TOM is relaying to me what he thinks is the best way to get there. Even though TOM has a lot of power and influence over my decision making process as I travel, the reality is that he’s just sitting in my glove compartment doing nothing until I tell him what to do, then based on how I feel or some other scenario I choose whether or not I’m going to take his advice.

If I go against what he suggests, it’s his job to recalculate and recalibrate to fit my liking…that’s just how I roll!

As I was stuck in traffic the other day a few blocks from the Capitol Building in Washington DC, it hit me. Many times I treat my relationship with God like I treat my relationship with TOM. I trust what He says, but only after I input my thoughts and insights.

That’s not only “not cool”, that is downright scary!

I mean, who am I to tell God anything? Who am I to give input to the Creator of all things? Who am I that He would love me, care for me, provide for me, and have a plan for me?

You know, as I was sitting in traffic in the shadow of one of the greatest symbols of human freedom in the world. I thought “no wonder my life gets confusing sometimes, no wonder our world doesn’t make sense, and no wonder many times the very leaders we look to for guidance inhabiting the halls of the Capitol building don’t have a clue.” It’s as if we’re operating our lives and decisions like we operate our GPS. We input and based on how we feel we choose to follow or not…it’s up to us!

I don’t know about you but as I sat there and thought about the many subtle ways that I “thank God for His suggestion” and go on my own merry way, I began to get it that it’s not up to me the pick and choose. It’s up to me to be plugged in to Him and obey His directions, because He knows what’s best for me.

The direction He lays out may not be the smoothest, widest, highest legal speed limit, toll free super highway in the world, but I’m learning that if I trust His route He’ll take care of the rest.

As I think back on the last several years of my journey, I can clearly see the times when I took His input and chose otherwise, and I can also clearly see the times when I rode full speed ahead with Him at the wheel.

The times when I thought I had the best route picked out almost always ended in disaster, and even though sometimes it seemed like the road He wanted me to follow didn’t make sense and didn’t show up on my map, those were the times when I could clearly see that I was right where God wanted me.

As many of you know these past few years in my life have seemed like a combination of both of those scenarios at times, but now that I am beginning to get down the road a little further, I’m beginning to see why He had me take the route that He did.

He’s teaching me that I don’t have to have it all figured out, I need to trust Him that His direction for my life is perfect.

I didn’t say it would be the easiest way, but I’m learning that it truly is the best way.

I’ve often heard people say that “the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will”, I’m beginning to seriously question that statement, and actually I think Paul would agree with me as well (check out 2 Corinthians 11:24-33 sometime).

The Christian journey is hard, bumpy, rocky and filled with pot holes, but I’m so glad that we have a Savior who knows the way, and is the Way.

Is He leading your way? Are you listening?

Brent Carl – Samaritan’s Purse
Regional Manager – Mid-Atlantic States
Brent is a 20 year youth ministry veteran who loves to teach, preach, train and engage with students and those who work with them. He is currently lining up speaking engagements for 2010.
Brent writes three different series of articles on youth ministry, and leadership

Lesson Learned” – Is a series of articles for Youth Leaders that chronicles some things he has learned as a veteran Youth Pastor that will encourage them as they continue to help students navigate through the confusing messages they get hit with every day.

YMinsights” – A series of articles taken from his international trips that focus on spiritual insights and challenges that cause us to pause and praise God for His goodness.”

Leadership Reflections” – A series of articles that help the reader take a look at how God has shaped them through their experiences to be the best leader they can be.

If you would like more information on Brent and His role with Samaritan’s Purse please contact him at visit his blog or check out what Samaritan’s Purse is all about at
Brent and his wife Bonnie, and 2 children live near Baltimore, MD.

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Leadership Reflections – TOM

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