the shape of leadership

You Have to Leap Before You Can Land

Don’t be afraid to take a bold step of faith

Kent Ingle on April 8, 2019

I was recently talking to a friend who was reflecting on a huge risk he took years ago. He was on the fast track in corporate life. He had already been identified as one of the rising stars in his company and was quickly becoming a rising star in his industry.

While my friend had everything, he wanted on the outside, he was empty on the inside. His marriage was in trouble, and his relationships with his children were strained. He wondered how it was possible for everything to be going so well and so terrible at the same time.

The regular travel, incessant meetings, constant pressure to achieve benchmarks, and stress of hyper-growth environments were taking a toll on every area of his life. One day, my friend woke up and could barely get out of bed. He looked in the mirror and realized this was not the life he wanted.

Give In Or Give Up?

My friend had a choice to make. With a mortgage, car loans, and college tuition staring him in the face, he did the very thing few ever have the courage to do.

He got up, knotted his tie for the last time, and drove to work. As soon as my friend got to his office, he closed the door and asked himself again whether this was really what he wanted to do. He knew the answer to his question. It was a test of his resolve to follow his passion and live the life of his dreams.

How many times do we see in the Bible God calling His people to take a step of faith?

That afternoon, my friend met with his boss and resigned. He left the office that day standing 10 feet taller. It was as if the world had been lifted off his back. He was finally free to live the life he had always wanted.

Leap First, Land Second

Looking back on that time, he knew he would do it all over again. Even though it was hard, it was the right thing to do. And when you know the right thing to do, the hardest thing to do is to ignore it and not follow through. Then he said something that struck me as really insightful. My friend leaned in and said, “You have to leap before you can land.”

How many times do we see in the Bible God calling His people to take a step of faith?

Hebrews 11 goes through the entire parade of faith featuring incredible men and women who had the courage to act in obedience to God, even when it didn’t make sense. Immediately following that chapter, the writer says in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

I have made a few leaps in my lifetime. I left behind a successful TV broadcasting career to be a pastor. And then I left the pastorate to become an academic dean. And from there, I became a university president.

It’s been a journey of abundance and blessing. But it would have been a very different journey if I had not leaped. If I had not acted with obedience, throwing off all the distractions and running my race — I would not be writing this article today.

That first leap is the hardest thing to do. In fact, the landing part is almost natural. The momentum will carry you forward. All you have to do is … well … leap.


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