Jul 252014 5 Responses

Sometimes You’ve Got to Mow the Driveway

A friend called me a few years ago. I felt the vibration in my pocket so I stopped what I was doing and answered the phone.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Mowing the driveway,” I responded.

I didn’t even notice how odd the remark sounded until, in a confused voice, my friend asked me to repeat myself. I understood his confusion. Mowing the driveway is not a common task. (Site: Jesus, Leadership, and the Courage to Serve)

Driveways shouldn’t have to be mowed. The concrete should be solid enough or the asphalt sealed well enough that no weeds should be able to grow. That’s how a driveway should be, but that’s not always how a driveway is. Many times the concrete cracks and grass or weeds begin to grow. How a person deals with the weeds—round-up, weed eater, pulling them, etc—is up to the individual. I choose to mow them.

As a leader, parent, and spouse, there are ways things should be.

  • An agreed-upon rule should solve future disputes
  • Job descriptions should prevent things from falling through the cracks
  • People should do what they are hired to do
  • Children should obey what they’ve been told

Families, organizations, teams, and communities are supposed to work a certain way. But sometimes they don’t.

And when they don’t, leaders have a choice. (Site: Leadership, Leaves, and Why We Should Never Give Up)

Some choose denial. Unable to accept life in an unexpected form, some people choose to never see the negative things in life. They live in denial of anything being wrong. No matter how tall the weeds in the driveway, they choose to never see them.

Some choose entitlement. They see the problems, but they refuse to do anything about them. They have a job and mowing the driveway isn’t one of them. It wasn’t their fault the weeds grew and they refuse to do anything about them.

Some choose bitterness. They recognize things that should be different and choose to do something about them, but they do so with bitterness. They are angry someone else dropped the ball or outraged a procedure didn’t solve every problem. While they try to take care of the problem, the problem destroys their attitude.

Some choose leadership. A leader understands that life will always have problems. He knows no person is perfect, no policy is fool-proof, and life rarely goes exactly as it should. Because of this, some things will not be as they should be. Part of leadership is doing what you shouldn’t have to do.

Of course, leaders take responsibility for trying to improve systems. We shouldn’t repeatedly do the same task over and over, enabling the rule-breaker or removing the consequences from the lazy. We should improve policies and develop people to such an extent that weeds don’t repeatedly grown in the same unexpected places. (See: 7 Leadership Lessons from Gus Malzahn)

However, no leader, team, or system is flawless. There will always be surprises. And part of a leader’s job is to do things they shouldn’t have to do.

Leaders don’t live in denial—we see the problems.

Leaders don’t choose entitlement—we are only entitled to serve.

Leaders don’t choose bitterness—it’s a privilege to serve.

Leaders choose to deal with whatever needs to be confronted in order to move the mission, team, organization, family, or marriage forward.

On occasion, every leader, parent, and spouse will have to mow the driveway. We will have to do things which we shouldn’t have to do. It’s life. Do it, don’t grow bitter or weary in the process, try to find ways from preventing it from happening again, but don’t be surprised when it does. (See: Who Wants to Be a Leader)

Have a friend in leadership? Ask them to describe some common examples in their life of how they have to mow the driveway.


5 Responses to Sometimes You’ve Got to Mow the Driveway
  1. […] I don’t feel called to pastor. It’s what I do. I enjoy it, but it’s not my calling... https://www.kevinathompson.com/working-10-12
  2. […] For me, it’s the leaves. (See: Sometimes You’ve Got to Mow the Driveway) […]... https://www.kevinathompson.com/leaves

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