Celebration was in the air. The little town my family lived in the summer of my eighth year came together for a festival, the exact nature of which I can’t recall. What I remember was the tug-of-war. It was fascinating as I watched bigger statured people step up to the rope, some on one side of the creek and some on the other. I had never seen a rope so thick before. Then both teams braced themselves and a white cloth hung down over the creek at mid-point. Someone shouted and faces contorted with effort as feet dug into the dirt and everyone pulled as hard as they were able. For a moment nothing happened except the grunts that filled the air. Then on one side a person with leadership skills emerged and began calling out, “Heave, heave, heave!” As the group timed their jerking tugs on the rope, the white cloth moved away from the other side. The quiet team was losing ground and lacked the coordination to rally. After the first three people went into the water, the rest of that team let go of the rope, giving up.

Thinking back on that day I can see that leadership and coordination were critical to victory. Both teams held on tightly and stood their ground, but the group with guidance and timing won the event. The difference between effective and ineffective leadership is clearly demonstrated by that tug-of-war. Winning takes a leader who sees the situation and comes up with a plan that when implemented gives the greatest likelihood of victory. Winning takes a team of people who will invest their effort in cooperation timed so that the execution of the plan generates a synergy making the team strength greater than the sum of the individual teammates’ strengths. Everyone can’t simply pull at the same time; everyone needs to pull together in the same direction.

The life application is that we need to determine certain key things. Who is your leader? What is your leader’s plan? Will you work with that leader? Who is working with you? Who is working against you? Can all these factors coalesce in a way to get you the result you need? The best leader is Christ and without any doubt, His plan will be the best. Are you cooperating with Jesus, or working against Him? What kind of people are in your corner? Some people may step up to the line with us, but their influence works against the best outcomes. It’s as if they push on the rope when everyone else is pulling and in doing this they are working for the other team. Anyone who doesn’t want you to live for Christ and obey His will is against what is best for you, even if it’s you.

We often find ourselves yanked into trouble because we listen to the wrong leader, follow the wrong plan, and/or depend on the wrong people for support. Therefore, a good church is important; we need to surround ourselves with people who work with Christ, follow His plan, and stand with us to pull together for good and right outcomes. However, if you are not willing to follow Jesus, then you are essentially jumping in the creek regardless of what you hope will happen. It’s a simple lesson, but it has profound impact. God bless!

Contact Pastor Lamb at icumc@yahoo.com.