The Power of Meanwhile
How to develop consistency in leadership
One of the underestimated principles of effective leadership is being consistent in doing the right things. Everybody wants the fruit of a consistent life, but few of us find the idea of consistency to be appealing, exciting, or attractive.
Instead, we’d much rather chase things that make us look good, sound good, and feel good. We’d much rather be carefree than consistent. That was most certainly the case for Eli’s sons.
Eli was a priest, but his sons were “scoundrels” and had “no regard for the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12). They were helping themselves to sacrifices and they were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And when Eli would confront his sons about their wicked deeds, they refused to listen to his rebuke.
While all of this was happening with Eli and his sons, we find a very subtle statement made about Samuel: “Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the LORD and with the people” (1 Samuel 2:26, NLT).
“Meanwhile.” Such a simple, subtle, yet powerful word. It’s easy to skip right past it, but it’s the hinge on which Samuel’s legacy swings. Eli’s sons were sinning; meanwhile, Samuel was pursuing a God-honoring path that would shape him for the rest of his life. This word “meanwhile” offers two important insights to leaders.
An Alternative Path
While Eli’s sons were sinning, Samuel chose an alternative path: He grew physically, spiritually, and socially. Samuel grew taller, in favor with God, and in favor with people.
Make decisions marked by character, wisdom, and intimacy with God, and then immerse those decisions in a habit of consistency.
Rather than being enticed by the indulgent behavior of others, Samuel focused on serving the Lord. Rather than succumbing to the desires of the flesh, Samuel chose to pay the price of growth. Eli’s sons indulged their sinful appetites; meanwhile, Samuel fed his spirit.
We cannot control what others do or how others behave, but their story doesn’t have to be our story. Their sins, setbacks, and shortcomings don’t have to be the narrative of our lives. We can write a different story, one that uses our time, talent, and treasure for a different purpose … a better purpose. That’s the power of “meanwhile.”
Leaders struggle with the same desire to be accepted as anyone else. We enjoy being esteemed, applauded, and liked. But the path to popularity is rarely the path to significance. More times than not, the popular path offers nothing more than short-term satisfaction that leads to long-term unintended consequences.
Meanwhile, like Samuel, we must choose the road less traveled. We must choose the alternative path that produces lasting fruit. Some leaders choose the easy route; meanwhile, be disciplined. Some leaders make subtle character compromises; meanwhile, choose integrity. Some leaders chase the latest fads; meanwhile, be faithful. Some leaders are people-pleasers; meanwhile, make hard decisions.
A Pattern of Consistency
Meanwhile, Samuel grew … not for a day, a week, or a month. Samuel grew for a lifetime. It was a deliberate, day-by-day path that produced a pattern of consistency in his life.
There likely were times when the days felt boring, routine, and monotonous for Samuel. And, no doubt, Samuel had days when he felt hidden and anonymous. But hidden from others doesn’t mean hidden from God. And anonymous doesn’t mean unimportant.
Our culture has a way of downplaying consistency because it’s not flashy or adventurous. “I went sky diving, bought a new car, and got discovered on YouTube” sounds so much more exciting than, “Meanwhile, I grew.”
The first is an event, but the second is a process. However, the process almost always bears more fruit than the event. The process is where maturity is realized.
Stop comparing your life to somebody’s glamour reel on social media. Instead, make decisions marked by character, wisdom, and intimacy with God, and then immerse those decisions in a habit of consistency. That’s where life change happens. That’s where a legacy is built you can be proud of.
Most “frontstage” successes were preceded by a “backstage” meanwhile. In other words, before the recognition and reward showed up, there was a long “meanwhile” where God built character and competency into the life of the leader. The “backstage” is what makes the “frontstage” sustainable. Without the “meanwhile,” success can crush you.We have an opportunity to write a story of honor, obedience, and trust. We can choose a path that pleases the Lord, regardless of what friends and other leaders do. Eli’s sons pursued a life of sin; meanwhile, Samuel grew. May the same be said of us.
Influence Magazine & The Healthy Church Network
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