On the landing at the bottom of the stairs in my home is a beat-up metal case. It represents one of my cherished memories as a child. When Mom brought the case out of the attic and put it on the stairs, I knew we were in for a treat. The case held my mom’s roller skates.
When I was a child, I used to watch roller derby with my father. I always dreamed of being a roller derby queen.
I recently started developing some balance issues and thought roller skating might help improve my stability. So I bought a pair of skates and headed to the roller rink.
Turns out, it’s not like riding a bicycle—at least not for me. The local rink offers free lessons on Saturday mornings. The first Saturday morning, it was about five children under the age of eight and me learning to skate.
We have a huge metal barn with a concrete floor at home. I thought I could practice there. I fell and hit my head on the concrete floor. A wise person would have stopped; I went to the store and bought a helmet and pads.
Using the analogy of roller skating, let me offer some life reflections for missional leaders, who often navigate difficult situations.
- Life can certainly knock you down. Always choose to get back up.
- When you are skating, you should, of course, be careful. However, if you are consumed by falling and failing, you will never learn to skate. Leaders are courageous risk-takers.
- In roller skating, you have to push yourself to learn new skills. Be a lifelong learner. Always work to improve yourself.
- In skating, it is important to glance ahead to see where you are going. Leaders should look up and be confident in where their hope comes from. Psalm 121:1–2 says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
- A little humor helps leaders ease the pain of life’s bumps and bruises.
- It helps to have someone to hold on to. I love to see children walking hand in hand and helping one another learn how to skate. The first time I fell at the rink while learning to skate again, I couldn’t get up. I crawled to the edge, and a kind young man came and helped me. Leaders should not go at it alone. You need others. It helps to have someone to hold on to.
Be careful out there, but keep moving forward!
We as leaders fall. When we crumble to the ground, it hurts much more than when we were children. Give us courage to get up again despite the pain. Help us to focus on You and to always keep trying.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Sandy-Wisdom Martin serves as the executive director/treasurer for national WMU.