Take, for example, when you're a baby.
No one expects for a baby to suddenly stand up and go bounding confidently across the living room floor with the balance and grace of an Olympic gymnast on a balance beam. Quite the opposite. Taking that first step will require many attempts and many falls before there is finally a wobbling, tottering step followed by yet another fall.
Learning to walk requires baby steps.
A lot of our leaders treat the people they lead like babies.
They do this by constantly encouraging them to take baby steps forward.
There's a time and a place for baby steps, and sometimes that does include taking baby steps forward as adults.
But often it doesn't.
What so many of these leaders don't take into account is that our greatest growth, our most profound forward progress in life, often is not achieved with a baby step. Instead, it often comes with an adult deciding to surrender to the power of the Holy spirit, and to tap into that discipline and self-control that God has given us (2 Tim. 1:7), and take some grown-up steps forward.
The recovering addict reduces his forward progress to a day at a time, but only after taking that huge leap of deciding to do whatever it takes to quit his addiction.
The entrepreneur has a long list of little things to get done in her day, but that's because she's made the leap to turn a dream into a reality.
The pastor with a heart to reach the lost still encourages his congregation to invite people to church services, but he's also taken the big step of training his flock to go out into the community as an army of ambassadors for Christ to share the Gospel with people who are lost.
Making big progress in life, in relationships, and in churches and organizations always demands that we do more than just take baby steps. At some point, we must take long, full strides as adults and cover some ground!
Sometimes --- sometimes --- baby steps are just for babies, and big, bold steps are for faithful, courageous adults.
Is that you?
Or are you more like a duck?
Christian sociologist, pastor, author and motivational speaker, Tony Compolo, describes one of his favorite Kierkegaard stories, The Parable of the Ducks, in his book, "Let Me Tell You A Story":
"Once there was a town where only ducks lived. Every Sunday the ducks waddled out of their houses and waddled down Main Street to their church. They waddled into the sanctuary and squat down in their proper pews. The duck choir would waddle in and take its place, then the duck minister would come forward and open his duck Bible (ducks, like all other creatures on earth, seem to have their own special version of the Scriptures). He would read to them: 'Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings and you can fly like birds!' All the ducks would shout, 'Amen!' And then they would all waddle home."
Sometimes, we reduce the challenge of walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ to the slow, meandering waddle of a duck when the call is to walk like Jesus ...
"For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps," 1 Peter 2:21.
"Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did," 1 John 2:6.
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me'," Luke 9:23.
As you look forward to a New Year and make resolutions and plans for 2015, are you conjuring up more baby steps? Or are you willing to take some big steps into a bigger, bolder future?