Encouraged to lead

In the Christian dating sphere in which I spend a lot of time, the conversation comes up regularly about how women can encourage men to take the lead and to be stronger leaders. They express wanting to be respectful in how they present the encouragement. Well, while I was at a singles conference in Colorado Springs recently, one of the ladies gave a perfect example of how to do just that.

A group of about a dozen of us set out to hike up Pulpit Rock. Thrusting up out of the earth, Pulpit Rock offers a couple different experiences of varying difficulty. We chose the more difficult, which involved some climbing near the summit. When it was time to head back down, there was a little bit of hesitation about how and where to start our decent. Where again was the spot where we climbed up?

It was at this point that Lindsey spoke up. “Well, Brad’s really good at forging a new path. Why don’t you lead the way, Brad?”

There it was. That was all I needed to hear. I wasted no time in stepping forward and being the first to head down the slope. I could do this. I knew I could do this. One person believed I could do this. So I did this. There was no question in my mind.

I also wasted no time in thanking Lindsey for her kind words, encouraging confidence, and supportive trust. She had done — in my mind — exactly what men need from women as respectful encouragement to lead.

She called out the ability she had seen in me. She affirmed it, acknowledging that she knew I would be a great candidate for forging the path. She then called me to live into those attributes she had seen in me. She had set the bar for me, and told me that she believed I could reach it.

Men love to be issued a challenge. If I say to a guy that I can beat him in a game of one-on-one, it won’t be long before he’s playing me to prove me wrong. If a guy next to me at the stop light revs his engine, I’m likely to hit the gas hard once I see green. (Although, if I’m smart like Marty McFly, I’ll put the car in reverse first.)

When a challenge is made, the bar is set. Sometimes, the bar seems too high. If that’s the case, some men will give up before even trying. (I’ve certainly done that before.) But, if there is someone there to tell the man he can reach that bar, he’s much more likely to try; especially if that someone is a woman he loves.

Certainly, this framework would be a great way to encourage anyone to take the lead. But, I think it is especially effective for men.

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