The Every Day Leader: Serve

Growing up on the farm, I saw serving as a way of life that was modeled before me every day. There were chores to be done, animals that needed caring for, and it took everyone in the family doing their part to make sure they were completed. We all had to take care of the garden, help with the canning and whatever else needed to be done.

Today, at age 79 and 82, my parents still model servant leadership. My mother still cooks and serves at the local soup kitchen, while my father makes the giveaways for the farm shows that reach out and build relationships with the local farmers.

Today we hear a lot about servant leadership, it seems to be the latest buzzword. It is a concept that people talk about as if it is something that we need to learn. While I am 100% for this concept, I am often amazed that we have to be taught this. As leaders this should be a natural outpouring of who we are. We should always be thinking of, caring for and loving others.

Serving SHOULD BE in our DNA as people.

The Everyday leader knows that serving comes from the heart.

It is the real deal.

We serve because we care.

We as every day leaders know the difference caring makes in the life of another. Every day leaders intentionally serve those around them; this is what sets us apart.

I am thankful for my parents who modeled servant leadership before it was the latest fad. I want my life to model this to those I have the privilege to influence.

The everyday leader is a servant leader. It is about being the one who is willing to intentionally serve others. It is having a servant attitude and making a difference in the lives of those around us.

 

 

 

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The Every Day Leader: Finishing Well

I have known my friend for years, full of life never without a positive word to say.  As long as I have known him, he has always lived  a life of intention.  The older he got, the more he longed to use his life to impact others.  He was not a leader by position.  He did not have money or power or even prestige. 

But, he was an every day leader that has had an impact on my life.

Today, he looked so different.  The life is gone and his body is struggling as he battles cancer.  Yet, I know without a doubt, that my friend has peace.  He has peace where he is going and how he has lived his life.  Did he make mistakes?  Absolutely.  Yet he did not let those mistakes dictate how he lived.  He understood the secret to learn from the past and celebrate the journey, but not allow it to define him.

Every day leaders must make those kinds of choices each day.  We are all given one life.  Each day we are alive we have the opportunity to make a difference, to use our lives in such a way that we can end the race knowing we have given it our best.  We will be able to say that we understood that every moment God has given us matters.

Moments matter

It is up to us how we choose to live them.

Have you ever met someone who had a great deal going for them in their life, but when you got to know them they were consumed with bitterness or anger or maybe even apathy?  Once you get to know them, you quickly learn that being around them is not something you want to engage in…at least for a long period.  They have not learned the secret of embracing life, running the race with endurance, and making the moments count.

We all have that choice to make.  If we are not intentional to make that choice, we will one day realize that life has passed us by and we really did make a choice.  It just ended up to be the choice of passivity, the choice of coping instead of choosing.  Ultimately it is the choice of living life or allowing life to pass by.  One day we will be at the end of the race.

What choice are you making?

I am thankful my friend chose to be an every day leader.

The every day leader, living a life of intention.  Making choices to embrace all that life has to offer and being intentional about finishing well.

 

 

 

 

 

The Every Day Leader: Thinking of Others

She pulled at my hand begging me to come out to the porch.  As we walked outside my sweet little four-year granddaughter had given me a gift.  Not just any gift, but a gift of her expression of love.  She had picked some flowers from the garden and carefully lined them up on the porch to look “beautiful” for me. 

This was a simple expression of thoughtfulness and love through the eyes of a four-year old.

 

I smile as I think of that gift. I smile because it was done in love. I smile because she was thinking of me and I smile because I felt loved.

Each of us needs those kind of gifts.  Each of us have the ability to give those kinds of gifts to others.  These are simple expressions that show we care about those around us.  They don’t have to cost us much, sometimes just time and effort and making the choice to do it.

Thoughtfulness takes time.  It starts with getting to know those around you.  Each of us have someone in our life that we, as everyday leaders, have been entrusted to influence.

Whose life are you influencing right now?

Have you taken the time to get to know those people, not just on a name basis, but really know them?  If we take the time to learn about those around us, we gain new insights into them and their lives. We hear what they are dreaming about, we hear what they struggling with, sometimes we simply offer the gift of much-needed laughter.  If we are intentional we have the opportunity to learn so much more than just a simple good morning and how are you!  Even in our personal lives with our own family members, how often do we get so busy that we don’t know what is really going with them or what they are thinking?

What about those that you work with or that work for you?  How much do  you know about them?  How about our neighbors?

When was the last time you took time for a cup of coffee to check on a friend?  Are you the leader of a group?  How much more would those who work for you thrive if you took time to invest in them?

Simple ways to express you care and show others that you value them:

  •  A simple  phone call
  • Send a card
  • Meet for coffee
  • Schedule a lunch
  • Help them accomplish a dream
  • Surprise them with something they would never do for themselves but would love to do
  • Practice active listening

For those who are team leaders or managers, here are some ways to show you value those who work for you:

  • Keep an open door so people know you are approachable
  • Take time to say hello to each person in the morning
  • Surprise them with them with something thoughtful
  • Write a thank you card and express your gratitude for their hard work

We all need to know that others care about us.

Today, think of those in your life that you touch.  Maybe there is someone you have meant to reach out to but simply haven’t taken the time.  Don’t let another day pass, take the time today to do something thoughtful.

Be thoughtful.  Value another.  It is an intentional way of life that can truly make a difference!

Everyday leaders.  Living a Life of Intention.  Giving the gift of thoughtfulness.

The Every Day Leader: Indecisiveness is a killer

There it was.. a squirrel lying in the middle of the road. Lying on his back with his little legs sticking straight up. 

It was as if he was caught totally off guard….

How many times have you seen a squirrel lying in the road?  Fairly common isn’t it?  We have all witnessed them stopping suddenly as if they are paralyzed for that moment of crisis when they see the car coming at them…trying to make the decision which way they should go.  What I have noticed is the ones that actually make a decision are usually the ones that make it.  Those that waver in their indecisiveness often don’t fare as well!

Making decisions is something we all have to do, some of us struggle with this more than others, simply because of the way we are wired.  In the end, as everyday leaders it really DOES matter how we make our decisions. What we don’t often realize is the effect of NOT making a decision in a timely manner. Being indecisive can catch us even US off guard with unexpected consequences. Just like the squirrel in the middle of the road, our indecisiveness can have devastating effects on our own personal lives, those we lead or the ministries or businesses that God has entrusted us to oversee. 

Taking time to think through and act wisely is indeed important.  Taking too long can be disastrous, just as much as making a rash decision without thinking it through.  How are you at making decisions?  Do you drag your feet?  Are you afraid of making a wrong move?  Are you someone who thinks more of pleasing others than making the hard choices? Do you simply make them quick to get it over with without really looking at all aspects?  Don’t be caught off guard!  Take the time to look at the big picture – but don’t stay there, waffling.  Be the intentional leader; be wise in how you respond to situations.

What are you facing today?  Is it something in your personal life that may be affecting your influence on others?  Is there something that you are facing in your organization?  As you look at the decision facing you, may you first think about how you, as an everyday leader make decisions.  It is never too late to improve how we do things.  Choose to be a better leader!

The Every Day Leader:  Living a life of intention.  Making a difference in the lives of others.

The Everyday Leader: Being in the right place

I planted ivy on a hill in my front yard several years ago.  It wasn’t the first thing I had tried.  Every other thing planted just did not make it and the dirt  would wash away each time there was a hard rain.  While it has taken some time, the ivy has now taken off.  In fact, it seems I just go out and trim it, and it creeps up on the porch.  It is incredible!

The ivy thrives where it is.  In fact, it is so thick now; soil washing away is never a problem anymore.  It is amazing when you have the right plant in the right place what happens.  In many ways, it is a lot like people.  When we are in the right place we thrive.  When we have the right people on our team our team is more likely to be successful. 

Just like the ivy, even if you are in the right place but the conditions are not right it is hard to thrive.  We eventually will burn or die out.  It is essential that we provide the right environment for our volunteers and staff.   Being an intentional leader means taking a hard look to see if you are in the right place.  Is it a good fit?  Are you in an environment that provides all that you need?  Are you doing your part to cultivate that environment?

What about the people you are responsible for?  Do you have the right people in the right place?  If not, what do you need to do to get them there?  What about the conditions they are working or serving in?  Are you intentionally taking the time to make sure it is a positive environment?  Is it a place where they can continue to learn?  Are you as a team working together or is everyone doing their own thing?  Do they feel safe to be themselves, to grow, to learn, to make a mistake? 

No matter what we are doing, whether we work alone or in a group, it is essential to be in the right place with the proper support, care  and healthy conditions we need to flourish…no different than the ivy.

The everyday leader intentionally looks at the details, even when we are busy.  We take the time to evaluate, to make the changes when necessary. 

It means being intentional to have the right person in the right place.

It means being intentional to be the leader our people need us to be.

I want to be that everyday leader.   Willing to be intentional.

 

The Every Day Leader: Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day.  For some of us this is a great day that reminds us of the incredible love we have had from our mother.  It may also remind us of the gift of our own children. 

Yet for some, this day may bring memories of sadness due to a loss of their mother or child. It may be sadness for not having a relationship at all or even having a strained one with their child or mother.  Maybe it’s a hurt from having an estranged child.  Whatever the reason, Mother’s Day can be a day that reminds us of a heartache that is all too real and testifies to the messiness of life.

My mother gave me an amazing gift… unconditional love. The gift of having someone love you and invest in your life in a way far beyond what I could have ever imagined. I think back and I never doubted the love of my mother, no matter what, her love was there for me regardless of what I did.  She modeled before me what true love was.  It was through that example that I was able to model this  to my own children.

I have met many who never grew up with the kind of love that I had from my mother, yet God has blessed their lives by giving them this incredible gift of love by another.  A person who was willing to invest in them, love them, teach them, train them, hold them accountable, pray for them, listen to them, encourage them, spend time with them, and be there no matter what.

These individuals are our every day leaders. They have chosen to invest in the lives of another and make a difference where they can, instead of selfishly holding back.

How about you? Is there someone in your life you can invest in? Someone, who would benefit greatly by your time, guidance, and wisdom? Each day God gives us opportunities all around us to be used to make a difference. Imagine the impact you could have on just one life if you lived intentionally, willing to pour yourself into another.

Investments take time, it could be just one hour a month or an hour a week, but the rewards are eternal.  The time you take can change a life forever.  Is this not what we are put on this earth for?  God calls us to connect with others, to walk with them on their journey of life – no matter what that journey holds.

Making an investment in the life of another will come at a cost.  It will cost you to be vulnerable to another, real and authentic. It may mean having to confront in love when misunderstandings happen.  But in the end, it will be a cost well spent. You will not be disappointed.

 I challenge and encourage you today to seek out that person to invest in.  Your investment could be life changing!

I want to be that person. I want to be the one that intentionally seeks out someone to pour my life into knowing that the gain is far greater than any loss.

 

The Every Day Leader: Hijacked!

Hello Friends,

I have a confession to make… I just hijacked my friend’s blog. I had to brag a bit about my amazing friend, Cathy, who is the really great leader that writes this blog week after week.

Holly Gerth once said the characters in life that may seem ordinary on the outside are far from it when given some time and a welcoming place, all kinds of wonderful starts flowing through them to you.

You find out how they came to be who they are.

Tonight, during a late night chat between working on projects, I learned all about how my friend grew up on a farm. I learned that life on the farm teaches you to work hard, do good, and care for family and others.

By the time we said good-bye I realized my life had changed and I had just gotten swept over by a whole lot of wonderful. Really knowing someone requires: our hearts, schedules, authenticity, vulnerability, and trust. I will be forever grateful my friend shared all of those things tonight.

Leaders and Mothers seem to have a lot in common. At times both seem to be a thankless job, at times the road seems lonely, and at times the task ahead seems insurmountable.

Today, on the dawn of Mother’s Day, I thank all of you Mom’s for giving of yourselves every day.  Know that you have the most important job of all.

I have gotten to watch my friend lead a medium size non-profit. I have also learned that she raised 4 phenomenal kids. I have had the pleasure of meeting 3 of those kids, they are AMAZING. I have seen her mother so many others: those who don’t have a mom that come her way, those who have lost their children and some who have lost their mothers.

I have seen her impact and change the lives of those around her every day. Isn’t this what leaders do? Isn’t this what mother’s do?

Today I just wanted to take a minute and say… you are doing a great job Cathy. You are an awesome Mom. You are an awesome leader. You have poured your heart into everything you do and it shows in the people you lead. You have impacted many and we will forever be changed because of it.

Your making a difference, not just in your children and grand kid’s lives, but in your staff and clients lives too. And mine. Your legacy is your heartbeat of compassion that will live on in the lives of all of those you touch daily. It is your smile that encourages the staff to press on when they felt they had no energy to go one step further. It is the stories of life on a farm that inspire faith, hard work, and hopefully homemade donuts.

You have challenged all of us to come up higher, be better, and be excellent in our service to others.

I trust you. I know that you have my back. I trust your judgement.

I believe in you. I believe you are changing lives, the community, and soon the world.

I am honored to follow your lead. So step out… take that first step… towards something new.. you are not alone.

I say thank you to those who have stayed the course, thank you to the leaders who are brave enough to have a vision, to cast that vision, and to lead with integrity that we may follow.

Thank you Cathy for doing all that and more. Thank you for being a friend that pours into others. Thank you for being a leader that I want to follow, a lover of Christ and a lover of people.

You are an AMAZING leader! A leader that leads every day with intention.

Sincerely,

The Baggage Handler