“Ladies and gentlemen, my job is to create adrenaline-producing events for you!”

Perhaps it was his imposing demeanor, or his southern drawl, or the four stars pinned on each side of his collar; most likely it was a combination of all three. The words of Rear Admiral Kinnaird McKee over 35 years ago, and this important leadership principle, have stayed with me.


He told of an event in his life while serving as the commanding officer of a nuclear submarine. Both the vessel and its crew were in great peril. To understand the exact situation, McKee needed to see it in person. That required a dangerous dive. He emerged from the icy water a completely different captain. It was his adrenaline-producing event.

For McKee, the weight of his responsibility, the seriousness of what he had been charged with had crystallized with that foray into the deep. From that moment on, he was a different leader.

Like so many things in life, this principle of leadership formation is found in the Scriptures. God is the author of adrenaline-producing moments. God sends Adam out into a world unknown. He charges Noah with a naval architecture project never before seen by man. Yahweh calls an elderly man to leave his home in order that he might be the father of nations. Over and over God creates formative moments in the lives of the leaders he calls.

In each instance, God is allowing His leaders to feel the weight of their charge. Yet, right next to that weight of responsibility is His strong hand.  McKee’s words taught me that I needed to embrace my role; stare at it head-on; understand the depth of what was riding on me.

God’s Word takes this principle of leadership even deeper: when you are God’s Leader, being led by Him, then you are leading neither in your own strength, nor for your own glory.

As leaders in the marketplace, this principle is at work. What adrenaline-producing moments have you faced? Perhaps it was a matter of integrity with a supplier or customer where God’s honor could shine. Perhaps it was in dealing directly and courageously with an employee so God’s mercy and justice could be manifest. Perhaps it was facing a decision that could make or break your company, requiring your complete trust in God as you felt the weight of all the lives that depended on your leadership.

Often we are so busy we do not take the time to identify and reflect on these moments. We need to recall what God has done in us. Each of these moments is preparing us for even greater leadership challenges. Each of these situations provides opportunities to teach those who we lead.

Which moments has God had with you? Which will you teach?

Angry young man

Angry young man