By: Chelsea Walls | Harvest Ministries

Have you ever been sitting in a room with a ton of people, maybe a concert or church, and something great sticks out to you. That excitement builds & you just have to show your support, but no one else is at that moment. Maybe you look around for a second and see if anyone else is going to acknowledge the awesome, but nothing is happening. What do you do? Maybe you decide to just sit there in silence and keep listening to the show or the sermon. But maybe you decide to take a chance. Maybe you make the first move and begin to clap. And others around you decide to join in, the sound builds, and before you know it, there’s a great round of applause that has spread across the room from your seat to every corner. There’s a special kind of pride that you get for a split second that comes with knowing that you started that round of applause because you opted to go first.

All of us as varying levels of introverts & extroverts, feel differently about being the first to do something like that. If you’ve ever asked another person on a date, you know that being the person to step out on a limb in any situation can be absolutely terrifying. There’s an insecurity and uncertainty in that moment where you don’t know if the other person will say yes or if the rest of the audience will clap with you. Maybe you’ll just be left hanging.

Have you ever seen a movie where there’s a great big canyon for the protagonist to somehow cross. There’s no bridge or steps, but the audience soon discovers that by the use of some well placed mirrors (or something fancy like that) there really is a bridge across, it’s just invisible to the naked eye. Our hero will often make that first careful step out, toe first, testing to be sure that the ground is solid ahead of them. That’s leadership. Leadership means making that first, sometimes unsure, step forward in a new direction where the group can follow and collectively take part in the good things ahead.

We are called to Lead Out

By leading out, we are those individuals who make that first step, but instead of doing it with an air of uncertainty we do it in faith that our foot will land on solid ground. Let me blow your mind here for a second, cause…wait for it…God is that solid ground. (You knew I was going to say that.) We aren’t stepping out into nothing. There’s no deep cavern to fall into like in the movies. Our faithfulness to make that first step collides with His promise to meet us there when we do.

As Judah, going first

Sometimes that step of faith is a decisive action, but often it is in our worship. As people called as Judah, we are to send out our worship first. In the book of Judges, Israel is gearing up for a big fight and they ask the Lord, who gets to go first into this fight? The Lord tells them…Judah is to go. Why should Judah be called to go up first? The Hebrew word translated as Judah is very literally PRAISE. So the scripture could be translated as, LET PRAISE GO UP FIRST. This is good advice for us when facing struggles or battles. Let us first praise. This is both an act of faith and submission. Praise God before the battle is entered; anyone can praise when the battle is over and won.

Did you think that praise was just for the worship team or those guys on your Christian Spotify playlist? Sorry, nope. Whether you have been gifted with a bucket to carry a tune in or not, we have all been called to be worshipers. Our worship is held on the inside of us just like that clap and we sit on the edge of our seat deciding what to do with it. Do we hold on tightly to it for fear of being the first one? Of praising too loud and sounding crazy? Of singing out but being off key?

Being an example (even when you don’t feel like it)

By stepping out first as leaders, we establish a template by which those coming up behind us can follow. If you want to affect and implement change you must be a champion of it. If you want the change to be successful, you must lead people towards it by example. The problem is, sometimes I just DON’T. WANT. TO. My pastor says it this way, “As leaders, we don’t get the benefit of having a bad day. We must be bigger than the bad day & refuse to give place to it.” Leading by example often means being an ‘icebreaker’ on someone’s behalf, despite our personal feelings or mood, and allowing those around you to get that extra push THEY need in order to step out as well. Others may need the extra comfort of getting to be a follower today, so that they can be lifted up into leadership tomorrow.

As leaders, we are stepping out first in order to build up a new generation of leaders right behind us. Locked up inside of each of you is that ‘clap’…that proverbial ‘first step’. God is holding you accountable for what’s on the inside of you. It’s a daily decision to make a move, either to hold on tight to what we have or be the start of that great round of applause.