The Every Day Leader: A life lived in an explosion of color

Spring in the South is really an amazing thing. For most of the year we barely notice the beauty of nature because it is hidden in the background just being green and blending in to its surroundings. And then spring comes and with it an explosion of color! Vines that were unnoticed, like Wisteria, all of a sudden are the most amazing purple banners along our roads announcing to all who pass that spring is here and refreshing the soul with the sweetest scent ever put into the air.

As I gazed upon these beautiful banners while driving, I suddenly realized how much this vine is so much like people. It is so easy for us to go along in life, unnoticed, just going through the motions of every day living and yet not really living at all. This is not active participation, it’s not contributing to the world around you, it is merely existing. Existing produces emptiness inside each of us; we were created for so much more than just that.

So how do we bloom bright like the Wisteria? How do we make our lives count and live each day passionately embracing every moment and living it as if it were our last?

The first step is realizing how uniquely made you are. That you were born at a chosen time and the gifts you have to offer the world are so needed and no one can offer them but you. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14). God has formed you with his own hands, he has gifted you with talents and experiences that are so unique and He alone has ordained your footsteps.  This is our foundation.

The next step is finding our strengths and passion and using our skills, when that happens, a mundane way of life begins to change to a life of beauty shining full of color to all those we encounter. We no longer fade into the background. As we find our fit and contribute to this world, our lives become breathtaking!

May we never settle to be like the vine that goes unnoticed, just doing the motions of life. Instead may we use all that we have been given and stand out and make a difference and live a life of color!

Make your life count!

The Every Day Leader: Sparrow Leadership Principles

Spring has finally arrived in the Great Peach State of Georgia! Oh to wake up to birds singing, there seems to be nothing better in the entire world! This is indeed a true refresher to the soul after a long winter. Some how that first month of spring seems to be the most appreciated of the season.

I recently stepped out into the black abyss, my garage, and decided to tackle a few things that were in disarray. As I swept the leaves and pine straw away, I reached up to clean the same mess from the shelves. I was wondering what those kids had been up to now?!

Just as I was about to knock the pine straw and leaves to the garage floor, I looked a bit closer at the mess, and there I saw it… this organized mess had a pattern to it. A deliberate pattern, as if each piece of the mess had been carefully placed. As I peered at it, I saw that this “mess” was no other than a little home to some new “neighbors” a family of birds had moved right in and made themselves comfortable on my garage shelf. This explained the sudden uptick in bird traffic I had seen recently coming and going in the garage.

I thought about the strategically located nest and how it was the perfect place: safe, dry, warm, out of danger, camouflaged, and yet there was just one thing wrong with this picture… they never realized they would not have access to their quaint little home all the time. How awful for their little one’s had they not been able to get to them.

As leaders, how many times have we had tunnel vision? Have we built the perfect system or service and yet failed to consider who would use it? How many times have we focused on our bottom line and forgot to value our staff that really makes things happen?

It is so easy to lose sight of the big picture; to get bogged down in the details of life and business, customers and products that we miss the reason we are doing what we are doing and why we do it.

May we as leaders always be quick to appreciate those who came along with us on the journey, quick to look beyond our surroundings and see what lies ahead, quick to protect those in our care, and always look for ways to make our “nest” stronger, more connected, and keep it out of danger. This can be done through hiring the right people, instilling an atmosphere that does not tolerate gossip, valuing employees, doing everything with integrity and excellence, and building a bridge of trust with every customer.

The Every Day Leader: A View from the Church Pew

It was a very simple funeral with just a hand full of folks that came.  Life had taken many twists and turns along the way and ended very differently for my friend. He never expected life would turn out the way it did, he never set out to make life different from you or I when he was growing up.  All his life he had friends, made it through Eagle Scouts, graduated and went on with his life.

Somewhere along the way prescription drugs got in the way and played havoc in his life.  He ended up homeless and burned the bridges to many of his relationships along the way. What he did learn was to treasure those that would take the time to care for him and love him without passing judgment on him.

Here was a man who clung to all he had and all he knew, it was simple but it was also profound… Jesus loved him this he knew for the Bible told him so. This simple faith he modeled before me whenever I saw him and countless others every day. Through his eyes I saw life just a little bit differently. My perspective changed and widened and encompassed those that were hurting, those that were down and out, those that needed more grace, more compassion, and those needing more love.

As I sat in that pew and looked around how I wished that each person  there could have the privilege that I had, to walk his journey with him side by side. How I wish I could get the ones there in this small church and those not there to see the value of a simple “Hello” and how that meant so much to this man and to many others. How I wish those there could understand and see how a simple act of buying a lunch or giving a ride home changes lives forever and yet it is not the life of the hurting but it is our lives that are changed.

This friend of mine wanted so much for someone to care. Is he any different from us? How many times do we pass someone and ask them how they are and never even wait for the answer. How many times are we the ones that give the pat answer of “fine” or “I’m OK” and deep down we are dying on the inside from life’s messiness.

May we never be so busy or caught up in life that we fail to look around with eyes that truly see. Eyes that see ourselves as we really are, eyes that see others and their pain. May we never be so busy that we don’t offer the ultimate gift to those around us… The gift of ourselves, our time, our hearts, and our love.

I want to live like that.