Where I live in Texas we have mesquite trees. They are everywhere. I have a few around my house that have been alive undoubtedly for decades.
Years ago, I spent a a month or so trying to grub mesquite trees. The trick, however, was you had to get down into the root system to truly get rid of them. Generally about 1 foot under the surface, there would be a bulb in the root system, and that was our target. If we could get the bulb, we could get the tree.
Our words should be the same way. As leaders, the things we say need to have roots, need to have substance.
Too many people get by in life by saying things that sound good but really have no substance. Or they say things that stand up until you think about what they’re actually saying, then you realize there is no root in their words.
Some people specialize in surface statements. They want to be quotable and tweet-able, but upon further thought, their statements have no root in truth or reality.
We, as leaders, should be different. Let your statements have root, let them carry weight.
Surface flatters someone for the sake of flattery, but substance points out and highlights the positives in their life.
Just like the mesquite trees that cannot be pushed over, I want what I say to the people around me to be filled with truth, with encouragement, and with love.
The truth is that regardless of what we say, our words have a lasting impact. I’m challenging you, as a leader and as a person in general, to let what you say mean something.
I was a senior in high school, dating my eventual wife. I remember getting to school and hearing how the first plane struck the tower. Then, as we walked into second period, I remember my English teacher talking with us about it and saying it had to have been an accident, there’s no way it could have been done on purpose.
As the day unfolded, we found out she was wrong.
I had no frame of reference to handle the information. Nothing like that had happened in my life before. It is still surreal to think about.
My generation has 9/11. My parents have JFK’s assassination. I have no wise reflections today, only a somber spirit.
So, let’s do this, if you’re reading this, comment and tell me what you remember about September 11, 2001. Where were you when you heard the news? What was your first reaction? What do you remember from the days that followed?
Also, for a fascinating read about Air Force One in the eight hours following the attacks, click here. But not until you comment below!
Today, let’s take a break from our normal flow, if there is such a thing.
11 years ago on August 27, I went to sleep in a terribly uncomfortable chair/bed at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, Texas. As I drifted off to sleep I knew my life was never going to be the same.
The next day, my first child was born. August 28, 2007 we welcomed Anna Elizabeth into the world, and boy was I right.
Now, I honestly do not know of any person ever who the night before the birth of their child said “I’m not gonna let this kid change me,” so I probably don’t deserve credit for my (what felt like at the time) profound insight.
But there is something about parenting that changes the way you view the world. I could not be more proud of my precious 11 year old. She is sweet, a book worm, nerdy to the core, and just as snarky as me (that could come back to bite me in a few years). She has a heart of gold, and is generally willing to do whatever possible to help.
Earlier this summer, I let her sit in the room as I taught a group of teenagers the 3 questions. On our way home she was excited and told me how she was going to start asking herself those questions. It was cute, and timely.
The bottom line is this: I would not trade being her daddy for anything. And just in case she reads this one day: Anna, I love you. I pray you will always love God first, and allow His love to flow through you to those around you. Continue to smile and impact the world around you. You have a loving heart, and never be afraid to let that shine.
Here’s to many more years on the adventure of parenthood.
Earlier this month I ran across an Evernote file I made in January titled “2018 Goals”. In the note, I set out a few goals I wanted to accomplish this year. For example, I wanted to read 24 books this year.
The problem was that I had forgotten about the goals. I failed to keep them in front of me, so I made the goals in January and stumbled onto the file in August.
So, those 24 books I want to read? I have completed 4 (with 2 being finished on vacation, after finding the note). So, yeah, I still have a ways to go.
Then I started thinking: I don’t have to read 20 books in the next week. All I really need to do is to pick up one book and read a little bit today. If I can establish a routine and work reading into one of my habits, then the end result will be something entirely different than the first 7 months of the year.
Accomplishing my goal does not mean reading a bunch tomorrow, it starts with reading a little today.
The same is true for you and your leadership. Whatever goal you are staring in the face is not as large as it may seem.
Maybe you want to grow your organization (or ministry), but it seems like such a daunting task. Accomplishing your goal does not mean growing a bunch tomorrow, it means growing a little today. Start making relational investments now.
Maybe you want to make family a higher priority in your life. Accomplishing your goal doesn’t mean binging time with your family tomorrow, it means making the most of the time you have today.
Maybe you want to a leading voice in your field. Accomplishing your goal does not mean getting a bunch of recognition tomorrow, it means doing the little things right today.
Then, in all these things, as you make the commitment to accomplish little by little every day, the goal quickly shrinks.
Last week, as you likely read, I flew home from vacation. As I have been diving in with both feet this week (short week last week, and starting the new school year this week), I have done a little post-vacation reflection. Here are a few thoughts I have had as I think about my time off:
I’m very grateful for the leaders in my life who respected my time away and with my family. It means the world to me that the key people above me value my time with my family.
Finally, let me say this: I handled frustrations at the beginning and end of vacation in two very different ways. The end is what I posted about last week. The beginning? Well, let’s just say I am not proud of the things I did, and upon reflecting, I was in dire need of vacation.
When was the last time you got away? What were you able to successfully do to unplug and refresh on your vacation?