Nov 182013 5 Responses

Leadership, Leaves, and Why We Should Never Give Up

Leadership is a lot like mulching leaves. It seems like a never-ending process. Even as you’re mulching, there are often more leaves falling than what is being destroyed.

Some see the leaves and say “There’s no use.”

Others see the leaves and get to work, but the first big wind that covers up all their work causes them to give up.

But others keep mulching. (See: How Leaders and Parents Focus on the Wrong Things)

What causes some to keep working while others never try or give up?

As it is with leaves, so it is with leadership.

Many never try. They don’t see the point. The problems are too many; the solutions are too few. They never make an effort.

Others do try. They volunteer in their community; they speak up at work; they give their heart and soul to a great cause or idea. But the first time the wind blows, discouragement comes and they give up.

Society is filled with these two types of people—those that give up and those that never try. Sadly, they are the most vocal. They are the ones who criticize the most. They do little but talk much.

Yet there is a third group. It’s a group of people who lead, serve, and make an effort. They tend to talk little because they are too busy doing much. They see the problems, but keep working. They feel the discouragement, but keep going.

Why?

What causes some to keep going when others are giving up?

What empowers some to keep serving when others are quitting?

For me, it’s the leaves. (See: Sometimes You’ve Got to Mow the Driveway)

On Saturday I was mulching leaves and when I had finished the front yard I was driving the lawn mower back into my garage when a strong wind began to blow. Within minutes my yard was covered as though I hadn’t spent any time mulching. It’s disheartening to have nothing to show for your work.

Yet there is one fact which keeps me going—there are a fixed number of leaves.

There might be more leaves in the trees than are currently on the ground. And at one point Saturday there might have been more leaves in the air than what I had mulched. Yet for this season there is only a certain number of leaves. It is not an unending journey.

As a Christian, whenever I think about the sorrows of this world, I know they are many, but they are limited. There is a fixed number. I don’t know what that number is. I don’t know how many there are. It is very possible there are many more before me than behind me, but in the midst of everything I don’t know, one thing I do know is that there is a fixed number–it’s finite.

Which means that every sorrow I endure, every grief I make it through, every problem I help solve, and every battle I endure, brings me one step closer to being done with the pain, sorrow, and sadness of this world.

And so when it comes to leaves and leadership—keep mulching.

No matter what today feels like. No matter the successes and failures. No matter if it seems overwhelming or hopeless—keep mulching.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t be deceived into thinking it doesn’t matter.

Keep working. Keep believing. Keep doing what is right. Don’t grow weary…keep mulching.

Even if it seems as though every time you fix a problem in your marriage more problems fall from the sky…keep mulching.

Even if it seems as though there are more problems in society than you could ever fix…keep mulching.

Even if it seems as though your service to an organization is futile…keep mulching.

As a Christian, we know that while the problems are many, they are finite. A day will come when the troubles of this world will be no more and God will make everything right.

Until that day comes…keep mulching.

For more, see:

Two Words that Define Good Leadership

Jesus, Leadership, and the Courage to Serve

 

5 Responses to Leadership, Leaves, and Why We Should Never Give Up
  1. George Palmer Reply

    Kevin: I think leaves have their own type of intelligence that most of us ignore. When cold weather threatens, what do they do? First, they lose weight (dry out) and drop to the ground. By losing weight, they make it easier to blow in the wind. Then, when the wind blows, the leaves head south like migrating birds. Finally, you have probably noticed lots of leaves near your doorways. If you allow, and sometimes even if you don’t want it to happen, they rush in your door just before you close it. Pretty smart, I think, but it doesn’t do them any good. They die anyway. Kind of like humans. We try everything to extend our time, but . . .

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