Do you remember what it was like to walk alongside your Dad when you were only a child? I remember being close to a run to try and keep pace with his long strides, but desperately trying to make it look like I was still only walking… at least technically! It wasn’t even that he was hurrying – he just had such long legs! Keeping pace is trickier than one might think, to walk at a comfortable pace for one is uncomfortable for another, reminiscent of Goldilocks, its either too fast or too slow and that baby bear fit of ‘just right’ is never the first thing we try.

Finding your pace can be frustrating; for some we wish we could skip along faster and others wish they could slow down to a wander, but finding your pace is all about knowing your tribe. It’s an age-old struggle and yet one man did it really well in such an uncompromising fashion, that he caught my attention. Jacob. The father of the twelve tribes of Israel moved his whole life across a great expanse of country; his family, his livestock and belongings. He knew where he was going, he knew it was part of his life’s purpose and he knew it was imperative to get from where he was to where he was going. He was on a mission…and yet it says he moved ahead slowly. (Gen 33:13)

How do you move ahead slowly when you know there are great things ahead? I know in my household no child moves ‘slowly’ toward the Christmas tree on Christmas morning! When there are great things we are moving toward, promises and presents that are coming our way what on earth can cause you to move slowly against the urge to throw caution to the wind and run as fast as your legs can carry you?

Jacob however did not set his pace according to reaching the spoils ASAP, or his desire to receive the promise, he set his pace according to his tribe – who was with him and who was in his care. Even the urging of a long lost brother newly and miraculously reunited with him could not alter his pace. Jacob said, ‘you go on ahead while I move along slowly at the place of my flocks before me and the pace of my children, until I come to you.’(Gen 33:14)

Every parent is a leader and every leader has a ‘tribe’ for which they are trying to move from one location to another, sometimes physically but most commonly metaphorically. You know where you are trying to get too, you know it will be better, but greater than the desire to be there quickly, is to arrive there with all your tribe intact. Tribes move slower than you, to move them quickly will cost you some of them and for a leader that price is too high to pay. Children, the future of your tribe, are ‘tender’ as Jacob called them and so rather than causing them harm, or potentially losing any, he went to their pace. Finding your pace is always tied to the pace of those you lead.

Who are you trying to lead and what is their pace? I know when living in the ‘babyland’ phase of life, our pace had to slow. We were no longer the only ones to care about. When our children were little, our pace was sometimes much slower than we would have liked, but our determination had changed from arriving at our destination alone to bringing our children – our tribe along on the journey with us. Isaiah describes also how the Lord ‘gently leads those with young’.(Is 40:11) God, like Jacob, understands the pace and leadership those ‘with young’ require… and its gentle.

Jacob found his pace according to his tribe and through what his tribe needed. He stopped and built shelters along the way and altars to the Lord, his faith was evident to his tribe and they all came on that journey as well. There’s no sweeter prize than that which you receive with your tribe and no greater satisfaction than ‘we did it!’

To find your pace, find and monitor the pace of your children – be they literal or metaphoric. There are those that need to make the journey, but if you race off, they may never get there. Let your path be littered with shelters, altars and miracle interactions, not with carcasses! When you set out toward your destination have confidence that the one who leads you there is faithful and your pace in no way determines what you receive, but rather how many receive it.