Raising the level of your leadership




The Yellow Brick Road


I have seen the movie 127 times, never missing it for about ten years as my two daughters begged, “Daddy, please watch The Wizard of Oz with us. Please. Please.” Because they did not often hear “no” from me as they grew up (they still don’t), I would plop down on the floor with them and pretend to be enthralled by it one more time. Not infrequently I would hear, “Daddy, Daddy, wake up, you’re missing the best part.”

If you have children, you know the Oz plot as well as I do. The four main characters—Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion—all need something which they can get only from the wizard who resides in the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road. Dorothy wants to go home to Kansas; the Scarecrow needs a brain; the Tin Woodman yearns for a heart; the Cowardly Lion hopes for courage.

After days of perilous travel down the yellow thoroughfare, the four arrive at the Emerald City, excited to see the wizard who they believe will give them everything they ask for. At least, they are all excited except for the Cowardly Lion who has a panic attack as they walk into the wizard’s foyer. The dialog goes like this:

Cowardly Lion: “Wait a minute, Fellows. I was just thinking. I really don’t want to see the Wizard this much. I’d better wait for you outside.”
Scarecrow: “What’s the matter?”
Tin Woodman: “Oh, he’s just scared again.”
Dorothy: “Don’t you know the Wizard’s going to give you some courage?”
Cowardly Lion: “I’d be too scared to ask him for it.”
Dorothy: “Well then, we’ll ask him for you.”
Cowardly Lion: “I’d sooner wait outside.”
Dorothy: “Why? Why?”
Cowardly Lion: “Because I’m still scared.”

Butterflies in the stomach are common. Junior high boys get them when Brittney walks by and smiles. High school seniors get them when The Letter from The College arrives. Few things cause more butterflies than meeting The Parents for the first time. (My future mother-in-law’s reaction was, “At least he doesn’t have long hair.”) “Apple-ites” get them while standing in line waiting for the latest new iWhatever. Athletes get them on game day (even if their name is LeBron or Brady or Tiger). And many leaders have a pack of TUMS in their top drawer to quiet the butterflies they experience before an important meeting with The Board, or a potential big customer, or every pastor’s nightmare—The Deacon Body.

The Cowardly Lion was trapped in a classic catch-22: he needed to see the wizard to gain courage, but he didn’t have enough courage to see the wizard. Until he overcame his fear, he couldn’t get what he wanted and needed. The Cowardly Lion was confused. He thought that if he was afraid, it meant he didn’t have courage. He had to learn that courage means acting in spite of fear, and so do we all—especially when we are in a leadership role. We can pray and plan for months, but when game day comes, so will the flutters. It’s a good time to remember that:

…God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:7 HCSB)

If you are in the foyer with butterflies in your stomach, breathe a prayer and walk through the door. Not much significant ever happens in the foyer.


This post is an excerpt from my book, 16 Stones.

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© Copyright 2021 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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