The Every Day Leader: Life in the Rear View Mirror

I love to go for drives…one of my favorite drives is in the mountains. Nothing compares to the scenery!  I find myself looking not just in front of me but often glancing to see what is off to the sides.  There is always so much to take in!  We all know that we are to glance in our mirror from time to time to be aware of our environment…but we know that when we do we might miss something ahead!

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When we look back we miss what’s in front of us

If we would spend all of our time looking at what’s behind us, we wouldn’t just miss what’s ahead, we would not be able to proceed forward!  If we did, we would not likely make it very far.

Funny thing is that we often do this in life.  We are so concerned about the past, dwelling on what happened yesterday, that we miss the beauty of today.  Much like in the car, it would be impossible to move forward when only looking back – in fact it would be disastrous.   If we spend more time looking behind us, we miss out on the blessings of today.

The flip side is if we totally disregard the past we will not learn from past mistakes.  We would not understand the effect the past has had – both good and bad on our lives.  We would not be the same person if we totally ignored the past.

Just like driving, looking in the rear view mirror helps us be aware of our surroundings.  A wise driver will look back every so often but not stay there.

How about you?  Where are you looking? 

Are you stuck looking in the rear view mirror – unable to move forward?  Are you forgetting to look in that mirror altogether maybe because of something painful you would rather forget? 

Being a healthy person means we take the time to see the past.  We are willing to  learn from it, deal with the hurts, delight in memories and be thankful for all that God has done.  It also means to be willing to move beyond it.  To embrace the present – really embrace the moments God has given us.  It also means to hoping for tomorrow, knowing God has our tomorrows in the palm of His hand.

Everyday leaders work on this balance – to be our best selves.  To be able to move forward, making a difference every step of the way.

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The Every Day Leader: How are you?

I  ran into her unexpectedly.   It had been months since I had seen her.  I stopped, looked her in the eyes and simply asked how she was doing.  Returning the look, the first words out of her mouth were, “thank you so much for asking, and meaning it, you will never know what that means to me”.   

A simple question can speak volumes to how you care about another.

We never know what is going on in someones life.  We have no idea if  they are struggling with a:

Relationship issue

Family problems

Caring for a loved one

Financial issues

Discouragement

Lack of purpose

Hurt

We often don’t see the bag on their back filled with all kinds of heavy rocks that are weighing them down. Rocks of disappointment, discouragement, hurt, and more. We do know that a simple act of kindness, as simple as looking them in the eye and caring – can make all the difference in their world.

It lightens the load.

Knowing that someone cares, really cares, can make all the difference to some one who is hurting.  They no longer feel that they are carrying everything alone,  especially when it feels like they cannot take another step.

Are you being intentional to speak to those around you? To address them by their name and to ask how they are?

It’s what Every Day Leaders do. It means physically showing you care.  It is what makes a difference to those around us.

 

 

 

The Every Day Leader: The Suitcase

There is something about old suitcases that just draw us in. They could be on display at an antique store or being used, no matter what, they always seem to get our attention.  So often we want to know the stories of their travels through the generations. It was not that long ago that trips took great planning, and the mode of transportation was on rough dirt roads as the horse-drawn buggies pulled both passengers and luggage to their destination.

Today we have it much easier.  A trip can be planned on the spur of the moment and still be enjoyable. We can check destinations, weather, activities, and so much more on our smart phones. Everything we need is  instantly at our fingertips.

As I write this I gaze at the old suitcases decorating my hallway.  These old suitcases moved my family long ago.  Yet, I am reminded that suitcases  can also symbolize much more than just travel, they represent the change in our lives.   For many of us change is difficult, we would rather hold on tight then let go and take the risk.

Today our lives are constantly in motion.  Yet when it comes time for a change do we know it is time to move on? Often times we remain where we are in our lives simply because it is comfortable.  Does it feel safer to avoid risk? Perhaps we have a new idea but fear it may not work, so we stay quiet.  We wonder how much of an impact we alone can have.  So we remain just as we are.  The road of change feels different.  Being safe feels better.  Less risk is easier.  So we do nothing. 

I love the story of Moses.  A man who stuttered, yet led the people out of Egypt.  An everyday man who was willing to be obedient.  He traveled. He led.  It meant big change and it was risky.   He was willing to step out, accept the risk and see what happened.  Our history books are filled with everyday people who have been willing to do the same. 

How about you?   The suitcase is just the reminder.  You  may already know if it is time for a change.  Deep down you know.  A career change?  Finding purpose in your life?  A relationship?  Reaching out to another?  Perhaps, you have found it easier to stay put. To keep the suitcases all stacked up nice and neat just like I have in my hallway.  They look good, but are serving no real purpose.

What will you do?  Living a life with intention is a life that searches and asks the question, what should I be doing differently?  How can my life count?  I like the reminder of the suitcases.

I want to be that everyday leader that is:

Willing to pick up and go

To move when necessary

To make a difference

The Every Day Leader: The old typewriter

I remember the old typewriter in the attic of the old home I grew up in.    Our home was filled with stories, memories and great things. As I grew up, I expected to write my own story, just as I used to write things out on that old typewriter.  I had grand ideas that life would be filled with all great things, just like life was like in the our old home.

As children we always think that life will  be good, that somehow hard times don’t really happen. Wasn’t the American dream  for everyone and anyone who would work for it?  To obtain this dream all one had to do was work hard, treat others right,  always do good and one would be rewarded  This was the script I knew.

Yet somehow life didn’t turn out quite like that.   There have been messy and unexpected things happen that certainly didn’t follow the script I wrote.  Instead life holds things like death, divorce, cancer, prodigal children, job loss, shattered dreams, broken promises, depression and burnout.  What do we do then?   It seems the script needs to be rewritten, so we jump in to make that happen the best way we know how.

I set out to rewrite my script to make a happier ending.  Somewhere along the way in the midst of the hard times of my life, I realized that God was doing great things in the middle of the messes.  He was showing me something different.

I learned that each day is a gift given to me. I can choose to influence others or I can choose to isolate. I can choose to love even when it hurts or I can choose to build walls because of the hurt. I can choose to use the gifts and skills God gave me to change the world or I can choose to build a life of materialism with things that I cannot take with me when I leave this earth. I can choose to make a difference in one life each day or I can choose not to invest in anyone – leaving no legacy behind me.

I choose to believe that the Lord orders my steps. That He alone is the author of my story and the ending is yet to be written. Life is like the back of a tapestry, threads going every which way entangled with one another, but at the end when you turn the tapestry over an amazing picture has been woven. The hardships of life and all those things that seem like they should NEVER be a part of the script actually shape us, build us, and develop deep character in us. Without those times we would not see life the same.  Those  experiences are powerful in our lives, even if we can’t see it at the moment.  It is all these things, the good and the bad shape us and allow us to see others in a different light. Often, our stories are the encouragement for others.

I no longer look at that old typewriter the same way. I no longer rush to rewrite my ending to the script.  Instead it serves as a reminder that life is about surrendering to the One True Author of our lives.  For it is He alone who is writing the greatest story of all and using us for His glory.

How will you live your life?

I choose this day to live a life with intention, to embrace every day, to let go of my script and pick up His.