The Every Day Leader: Reaching out to a messy world

This morning before the sign was flipped to the “open” position at our nonprofit agency, I had already spent ten minutes on the phone with a grieving father, and another twenty minutes with a mother who spoke only through the sobs of losing her adult son.

The sadness, the guilt, the loss…it was more than either of them knew what to do with, it was all-consuming. For years addiction had consumed their son and virtually destroyed their marriage. Now, here they are talking to a stranger, thanking me for caring for their son, knowing that we had befriended and helped him during his time of need. Immediately following that conversation I moved to another with an older gentleman, at the opposite end – facing the winter season of his life, who had lost all of his family relationships from mental illness and bad decisions.

Struggling. Lonely. Searching. Longing for life to be different, and yet, feeling there is not much hope of it actually being different. He was wanting, more than anything, to simply have someone just willing to talk with him.

In both of these situations, life took unexpected twists and turns. Life got messy. All of these folks walk their journey alone, feeling like they don’t belong.

I wonder how many others walk it alone?

How often do we assume everyone is okay and that they have someone to rely on? If we realized how many people we see each day that are alone and hurting, would we be more willing to reach out and care about them?

I wonder if we only knew, would we act differently? Would we take more time out of our busy days? Would we take the time to speak and truly care how someone is – to make eye contact and see the hurt? I wonder how different our world would be if each of us lived this way.

Next time you see someone, no matter where you are…take the time to care.

Isn’t that what we all strive for, to know that we matter to another? Our business, our non-profit, our life…we strive to know that what we do matters, that we matter. I know that when I take the time to simply listen, to care, and to pray for those who are hurting, it is in those moments, I know that my life matters.

As Every Day Leaders, it is the little things we do each day that can leave a lasting impact. May we never forget that every moment really does matter!

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.