Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir. Genesis 33:14 ESV
The law of first mention is a powerful Bible study tool. You look up the first time a word is used in the Bible, and often, there are important spiritual truths that accompany that word throughout its use in Scripture. This morning I looked up lead (and leader/leadership). Jacob first uses the word when he reunites with Esau as he explains how he will lead his family back to the homeland. Esau can go quickly because he is with adult men. Jacob, on the other hand realizes he has cattle and children and must lead his family more slowly. God provides us some great spiritual leadership lessons from this simple encounter.
First, recognize God has placed you in leadership in your sphere of influence. At your work, in your home, with your spouse, God has selected you to lead in these areas. Part of spiritual formation involves embracing this calling. Secondly, one of the key components of leadership is being aware of the people you are leading. Other businesses may respond differently, other families may be capable of more or less. You must determine what your particular followers can handle, and then lead accordingly. God may have placed you in an adept and responsive environment. If so, be prepared to lead quickly and strongly into new frontiers. You may be in a weaker or less prepared environment. If so, you will have to go more slowly. God may still call you to great things, but you may have to get there more slowly than you would otherwise have liked.
Finally, and most importantly, it’s never too late to learn leadership. If you know the story referenced above, you know Jacob was actually a horrible leader prior to this point. He was terrified of Esau, so he sent all his children and livestock over ahead of him as a buffer between him and Esau: definitely not a good example! However, that night, he face the Lord and wrestled with Him. In wrestling with the Lord, his life was changed and apparently his leadership was as well. As you head to work this week, recognize God wants to change your leadership and empower you to lead your organization or department or project well.