We have a big dog- it wasn’t my idea to get one, but my son’s pleading brown eyes and his (false) promises of doing the daily dog walks, poo collecting and general looking after, swayed us when we were weak. That was five years ago, and now the dog and all of her needs rest firmly within my remit. She’s taught me much though, not least of which has been the importance of deliberate leadership.
You see, dogs are pack animals, they have an innate need to know who is in charge, and once it’s established that it’s not them, they crave being led. They need to be aware of their boundaries, what’s allowed, what’s not, where they can sit, where they can eat, where they can ‘do their business’. They want to come when you call, fetch when you throw and sit when you say. If you do not establish your leadership over a dog, you will find that the dog takes liberties. It will sit on your sofa (or worse sleep in your bed!), eat your food, drag you around on a walk or run off at will. It will bark, whine, pee, chew and, if so inclined, may even bite. Dogs make for poor leaders of people, yet many dog owners willingly acquiesce their authority out of a false sense of kindness.
Life can be like that too. Life has ears, and you have a voice. Life has momentum, and you hold the steering wheel. Life has its own current and if you don’t learn to swim in it, that current will take you anywhere it wishes, and you will spend your life just trying to keep your head above water.
Your life needs to know who’s in charge. Your life needs to know who is setting the boundaries and where they are, who is making the decisions because, without your deliberate choice to exercise the authority you have over your life, you will find life may turn around and bite you on the butt.
Over the years, I have learnt the importance of being choice aware- aware that my choices matter. The decisions I make about how I spend my time, who I spend it with, what I read, what I watch, what I do, what I think about, all have an impact on the direction my life takes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in control- there’s too much about life that is unpredictable and uncontrollable, but I am in charge of how I respond to the things I can’t control.
I decided long ago not to become a passive observer of life, tossed to and fro by the waves of those who are making them. I decided to be deliberate, to make some choices. I chose Jesus. I chose to live my life according to His Word. I chose to say ‘no’ to things I needed to say ‘no’ to, even when I felt it would let certain people down. I chose to say ‘yes’ even when it took me out of my comfort zone. I chose to get fit; I chose to love my husband and give my heart to him (that was an easy choice). I chose to stay in church because God said it was better to stay (that was not an easy choice) I chose to parent our children on purpose, not by default. I chose to build deep, lasting friendships and push past the fear of rejection or insecurity. I chose to ask for help when I needed it and be honest about my struggles.
Being able to make our own choices is the ultimate definition of freedom and it’s a freedom Christ died for us to have. He died so we could choose, so we would no longer be slaves to sin, to death, to the enemy but instead would have the choice to follow Him, to live our lives with deliberate intent. I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of wasting that opportunity.
Like my dog, life wants to be led, needs to be led, thrives under leadership, but like my dog, if you leave the space of leader wide open, life will step right in and do it for you.