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Anyone who knows me, knows that I love bald eagles. If you were to walk into my office, you would see bald eagles all over the office. I have three rather larger prints that feature bald eagles in each one of them. I also have a set of shelves that are full of bald eagle statues and pictures. As I was sitting in my office this morning, I was looking at the prints of the bald eagles. I was admiring the majestic look of the eagles in each print. I was noticing how they seemed to always be soaring above whatever else was in the print. This lead me to think about how it is important for leaders (and people in general) to soar above much of what is occurring.
Now, I realize that the previous statement can give an impression of arrogance. I am not intended to indicate that there is some superiority that a leader should try to communicate. Instead, I believe there is some practicality here that I am wanting to share. First, we all know that there can be times that day-to-day life can become rather messy and personalities can create gossip, conflict and controversy. I believe that it is vitally important for leaders to soar above those items. In order to be an effective leader, you need to be able to not get bogged down in messiness and negativity. An organization is dependent upon its leadership to help lift it out of those situations. If the leader gets embroiled in them, then it is impossible for her/him to guide the organization out of them. So the leader needs to soar above.
Second, the perspective of an eagle above the landscape is much different from that of an animal walking along the landscape. I believe leaders need to have a perspective of an eagle. They need to be able to see a broader view. They need to be able to spot pitfalls and dangers which cannot be seen on the ground. They need to be able to guide the organization along the path which may only be visible if you are looking from above versus down low. So the leader needs to soar above.
There are times that a leader needs to walk alongside. There are times that a leader needs to sit and rest beside others. There are times that leaders need to be close enough to listen and to hear. But there are also times when the leader needs to soar above.
As I look outside my office window and watch some of the leaves fall (the tree outside my window always changes colors and has leaves fall very early), I am drawn to think about the change of another season. So here is today’s music video.
Just a note: This song is based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, check it out.
Many times in life I think that we get so paralyzed because we perceive that life can be so difficult. While I do not want to minimize the challenges that many of us have on a regular basis, I think we can easily forget that many of those challenges can become manageable if we break them down into easier steps. When we do not make the attempt to deal with the challenge, we are stuck in the same place and the challenge remains. However, if we take one step at a time, we can manage through and often overcome the challenge.
I know that it is not Friday but I still wanted to drive this point home with a video clip from my childhood. This clip is part of a Christmas special entitled Santa Clause Is Coming To Town. In this clip, Old Winter is bemoaning the fact that he finds it impossible to change from his mean ways. Kris Kringle tells him that it is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.
So remember this when something appears to be insurmountable.
Image provided by about–eye.blogspot.com
If you have ever had the opportunity to spend significant time with a person from a different culture, it can truly be a perspective changing experience. I have had a few of these great opportunities in my life so far. Both last year and this year, I have had the privilege of serving as a host to young men from a European country. Each of the young men have lived with me (one is currently living in my home). It is a great delight for me to hear about their native countries and to have them share their perspectives on life in this country, the events of the world, and upon life in general. These young men are truly amazing individuals and have helped me to grow.
I was thinking this morning what a great value it is to at times look through the eyes of others. I find that it is very easy for me to view life from only my perspective. When I do this, I have a limited understanding of life and individuals that I encounter. I easily become judgmental and make judgments quickly. It is only when I try to understand life from a different angle that I am able to be more open, understanding, and caring. When you realize that not everyone experiences life exactly like you experience it, you are open to new possibilities. You also gain the ability to have empathy. You may still not agree with the other person’s perspective but you can at least have a greater understanding of the basis of that perspective and can respect where it comes from.
My challenge for you this week is try to look at life through someone else’s eyes. You may discover a much different world.
Yesterday the Department of Transportation closed a major highway coming into our community. The reason that they had to close the highway was because the road was falling apart due to unstable soil below it. This road underwent a major reconstruction and paving last year and earlier this summer they were working on a section to stabilize the hillside on one side. That section is now the area that is crumbling so the road has been closed. This new reality prompted a conversation this morning regarding why this issue was not apparent when the reconstruction was done a year ago. What has become clear is that there is not a correct foundation for this road at this time and it has become unsafe.
As I pondered these events, I was drawn to consider the importance of the foundation of my life. Without a solid foundation, life can be much like the road mentioned above. Life can begin to crumble, fall apart, and become unsafe. As a person of faith, I was reminded of the following passage:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27, NIV)
Jesus is speaking of the importance of the foundation upon which to build our lives. Here Jesus is referring to his teaching as the foundation we should have in our lives.
I think that in addition to Jesus’ teaching, there are some important pieces which need to be included in the foundation of our lives. Jesus’ teachings undergirds all of the foundation but we can add relationships, personal care, our faith and community involvement. We need to make sure that we have a solid foundation so that we can withstand the storms of life and not crumble under pressure.
In light of the weather this morning (and for the past few weeks):