The Worm of Leadership
I was like a 5-year-old as I watched worms inch across wet pavement in the wake of a spring shower. I had never payed attention to worms this closely. I saw something phenomenal. The worm has three distinct portions to its body: the head, the middle, and the tail. Disclaimer: these are not textbook biology terms! As it scoots along, the head and the tail move forward together while the middle remains stationary. Then the middle catches up to the head. And it happens all over again. The head and the tail, then the middle, head and tail, middle . . .
In leadership, we recognize that there are early adopters to change. There are leaders to movements. It sometimes takes others a while to follow. Call them "the middle." And then there are those far behind at the caboose. They may bring up the rear, but at some point they follow. Regardless of how far they lag behind, the tail eventually moves only because the head continues to push forward.
Consider this metaphor however you'd like, but I reflect in two ways:
1.) If you're leading something (or someone), don't be discouraged by slow or resistant change. A leadership book I once read stated, "It always looks like failure in the middle." If you're out front, it takes a while for those behind you to catch up. Sometimes they are completely stalled. Sometimes the wiggle forward is imperceptible. But the head must keep moving. Eventually the middle slides up and likewise the tail.
2.) Jesus is often referred to as the "head of the body." I think of how frustratingly slow we are to follow. The Bible reveals a follower-ship incapable of being "early adopters," maybe not adopters in any sense. These disciples were fearfully reluctant and shamefully dejected. But post-Easter, we see the Head of the Church high and lifted up. And by the Spirit's instigation, a body is raised up to follow its Head. We may lag at times, but we keep marching because the Head keeps leading.
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