The first time I found myself in the driver’s seat of a bus full of kids it hit me like a truck. I looked up at that special bus driver rear view mirror and felt the weight of the responsibility I suddenly carried. A careless mistake now had exponentially greater ramifications than it had a few moments prior.
Driving a bus is a huge responsibility.
When you go through the training process and learn all of the regulations and particular laws for your area that govern this task, it can seem a little overwhelming. But the responsibility of driving the school bus doesn’t hit you until a bunch of kids—other people’s kids, mind you—pile onto that bus.
Leadership, in so many ways, feels a lot like driving a bus. We’re taking responsibility to steer an organization or team or group. We will be held in some way accountable for what takes place, the success or failure, the growth or decay, the profit or loss. In my leadership context of ministry, the weight can swell upon our hearts when we consider the potential impact of our leadership and the implications into eternity.
When a leader has the heart of a shepherd, the weight of their responsibility may not be heavier than other leaders, but he will surely feel it heavily. But… IF you’ve never felt that, you really can’t grasp the feeling of it. You can understand that it’s there, but you can’t really know how it feels until you’ve been there.
When you drive a bus, you have a lot more to your charge than simply operating the vehicle in a manner that will safely arrive at the appropriate destination. You have a responsibility to see that your passengers remain safely seated. You must watch out for inappropriate behavior—that they’re not mistreating one another, not throwing things out the window, not displaying offensive gestures or body parts to others along the road—and countless other behavioral, interpersonal, and biological circumstances.
Why bother to bring this to your attention?
It’s simple, really. I am begging you to try to understand the unseen weight bearing upon the leaders you are called upon to follow. I want to urge you to at least hold up on your criticism of your leaders long enough to consider the responsibility they have and the way it may be affecting them. I implore you to go back and look at those decisions you didn’t agree with and see how that responsibility might impact the leader’s steps.
And then, when you still disagree, would you have the character to stand up and say to them (personally, not publicly) that you don’t agree, but you appreciate the weight they carry. I can say from personal experience that it makes all of the difference in the world when someone is honest enough to express their disagreement but gracious enough to support you anyway. In fact, if your leader is a person of integrity, it will push them to strive even more for wise, healthy decisions for everyone involved.
I want to personally add this somewhat public apology for all of the nonsense I have ever been a part of on a school bus… especially Mr. Herschel Nichols—possibly the most patient bus driver I have ever known.