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  • Katie Smith

Turning pages

The guinea pig. The lab rat. Going first as it relates to scientific discovery and experimentation isn't a desirous role. Yet, "going first" can trigger excitement if it is associated with a new enjoyment. First to turn the page in a great story; first in line for the playground; first one to taste the chocolate chip cookies; first to open up a present. Countries are looking to each other right now to see who is going to turn the page first in reopening phases. Sometimes it's heroic to be first, and others times it's catastrophic.

Sometimes we see the future first, which gives us confidence to take steps first, like the eldest child jumping ahead of his siblings because he has experience on his side. I've heard of many women (myself included) who tend to make subtle, or even catastrophic, mistakes jumping ahead of their husbands all because they have seen the "writing on the wall" first.

However, perceived insight or intuition doesn't make you a good leader. Careful consideration coupled with wise consultation pave the way for prudent pioneers. Historically, many women have knowingly or unintentionally fated their families for harder roads because they failed to bridle their perceptive passions. Eve tasting fruit before asking her hubby if there were rules against taste testing in Eden. Sarah jumping the gun with a surrogate because she didn't trust God to honor His promise to her husband. Rebekah tricking her better half in his final days because she favored one son over the other.

In all these scenarios, God was able to use the misgivings for greater good, but what an easier road their families could have had if these matriarchs had sought counsel, patiently prayed, or simply waited a little longer for their leaders to lead. I think the fear of holding back comes from a possible "I told you so" senario, that could affect future generations.

But what if God has a more constructive "I told you so" situation waiting for us? One where we don't have to guard all the goals frantically; one where we just lift up silent prayers and watch the real God work; one where He gets glory as the goalie instead of us. I'm guilty of trying to cover all the bases myself, but I've learned, through mistakes, to pray for our leaders rather than assume the role all by myself.

This is not to say that women cannot or should not lead. Rather, it's an opportunity to see real power in prayer and prudence. Many throw out "prayer" hand emojis for love and comfort, but really praying and trusting the outcome requires real faith. Almost everyone is given a chance to lead if they show prudence in their youth. Whether it's a watching over children, teaching a seminar, guiding a tour, or just leading a meeting, the best leaders are those who have the foresight to accept guidance before they begin running the show.

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 24:6 For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

What about bad advice or faulty counselors? Those are certainly in abundance. Well, that's the whole point of prayer, which is a practice that takes time and trust. Hence, the waiting when we are not intended to lead. I can think of no better time than a quiet quarantine to practice this discipline. When you see those people in places of simultaneous peace and purpose, maybe take time to press into their story. Discover how they learned when to turn the page and when to reread it.

Talking and praying weekly with my new 84 year-old friend over the phone has been a fortuitous result of COVID-19, and I hope I can continue turning pages with her long after life speeds up. However, we turn pages in the coming months, let's remember to prudently pray before each turn.

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