Gandalf

As I type, I’m sitting in a local tire repair shop, getting my front driver’s side tire plugged. Or patched. Or replaced. They haven’t told me which one just yet, but I’m sure it’ll be the most expensive option, because that’s how my tire problems roll.

(I’m sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

The adventure began on Sunday afternoon on the way home from church. Merriem and I were in separate vehicles as usual (sorry, Mr. Gore), when I got a phone call telling me she was on the side of the road with a screw in the tire. This was no ordinary piece of hardware. It was a major chunk of metal. I think it might be the type of screw that holds up the Empire State Building. Heck…it may be the Empire State Building. And for once, I’m grateful that I wasn’t the one running around with a loose screw.

But I digress. We met up, switched cars, and I decided to try to make it to the repair shop on the still-mostly-inflated tire. But because I valued my life and safety (hands at ten and two, keep it below 40, no Netflix watching behind the wheel), I turned on my hazard lights and crept along in the right lane.

Now picture it: I was on two major highways (Hwy. 70 and I-85, for my local readers). There was always between two and five lanes of traffic. My hazards could be seen from a half mile back. And yet, there were still some – ahem – impatient ignoramuses who insisted on tailgating me, swerving around me, and shooting me dirty looks. And although I never saw it, I’m sure I received more than one Durham Wave. (Just like a regular wave, except with fewer fingers.)

Now my friends, I ask you: was such impatience justified? Other drivers had fair warning. They could see my hazards. They could obviously tell I wasn’t going fast enough for their preferences. In most cases the passing lane was clear and they were free to pass. So why the frustration?

In case you’re wondering, there’s a point to this story other than the one that went through my 225/60/R16’s:

if the guy ahead of you isn’t going as fast as you’d like, it’s okay to pass.

Here’s what I mean: more often than not, I’m not the smartest guy in the room or the best voice at the table. And a lot of times, my title and position possibly dictates that I ought to be. Maybe I’m talking to a group of volunteers, a new batch of interns, or a table full of much younger pastors. And though I should be leading the pack, I’m not. Whether or not I should be the fastest brain, I’m often struggling to keep up. And in those moments, I want to communicate that it’s okay to pass.

It’s okay to be smarter than your leader.

It’s okay to be more well-read on a topic.

It’s okay to bring up better ideas, smoother strategies, or cleaner systems.

Passing your leader isn’t something you need permission to do. No, it’s a gift. It’s a gift to the one leading you. It’s a gift to your peers. It’s a gift to the entire team. Don’t hold back a great idea or a valid opinion just because you feel bad about passing the guy in front of you. While it might not feel natural, it moves everyone forward.

To keep quiet and stay where you are just proves that you may have a screw loose.

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