Monday, September 21, 2009

Following in the Footsteps

Last week one of our ministers posed a question to his Facebook friends to help him prepare for a class he was teaching at our church for ministers in training. He said "What characteristics do you desire in a boss?" Instead of dwelling on that question like I would normally do and pop out with some elaborate answer after allowing it to swirl around in my head, I responded immediately with the first thing that came to my mind. My response was "Someone who uses their position to not only lead, but mentor, and develop their employees to follow in their footsteps one day."

I'm blessed to have a great boss at my current job and throughout my career have had many a wonderful boss. Of course, with the good comes the bad and the ugly, and I've had my share of ruthless bosses who would fill a blog with stories of their unethical and horrible management style. And, working in leadership roles through my church, I've learned to look at those leaders in my life I long to emulate and apply those good qualities and characteristics to my own style. Anyone that knows me can attest that mentoring others is my passion. My main milieu for that activity is within my church family, but any chance I have to walk life alongside someone and watch them grow and develop thrills my soul. Referring to mentoring in my response to his question wasn't surprising, but after posting it, a visual came to me about the second half of my answer..."following in their footsteps."

Many leaders are intimidated to groom an underling to take over their role. If we were all honest, all of us that are in leadership, we still have a twinge occur when we think there is someone out there that can do our job, and maybe even do it better. But, a true leader sees that our role is for a season and if we don't prime someone to follow in our footsteps, the vision of our work could vanish. This caused me to think of the Ultimate Role Model in leadership....Jesus....and those that would follow in His Footsteps and a specific time when He modeled that in a humbling way.

It was right before the Passover feast and Jesus knew the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. At an evening meal with His disciples...those that would carry His Work on past the resurrection...He displayed His leadership and humility. Jesus donned a towel around His waist, filled a basin with water, knelt down and began washing His disciples feet. Peter, the ever outspoken one, questioned Jesus' actions. (Oh how bold Peter was, but, hmm, I can sometimes be that bold with my Master too). He did not want Jesus to stoop to that level (literally and figuratively), to which Jesus responded "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." And then He spoke this life lesson....

"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

Modeling and mentoring. Service from the Master. Charge from their Leader. Securing the vision will continue after He has ascended from this earth. I'm sure the lesson caused many a quizzical look on the faces of the disciples. But I'm confident that many footsteps down their road, this lesson had taken root and grown and they put it into action themselves. The Ultimate Leader taught us how we should follow in His starting with humbling Himself at our feet.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bedside Manner

A couple of weeks ago I had minor laser eye surgery. Anything with "surgery" in the title doesn't seem minor, but the impact of surgery diminishes when the procedure is done at a local surgicenter. Thankfully the surgery went well as my doctor blasted away some membrane tissue that was a result of a previous surgery two years ago and my right eye is all sparkly and superpowered again. When you go for procedures like this, much of the time is spent in prep and waiting, which can try your nerves if the procedure is much more extensive. I brought a book to keep my mind occupied during the waiting and to make the time pass.

When it was time to take me back for actual prep, I was in a holding area along with countless other folks waiting for surgery....anything from other laser procedures to much more extensive operations....but none of which require overnight hospital stays. I'm a student of people. I'm fascinated by watching and listening to complete strangers as I roam this learn so much, and have a few laughs along the way. As I sat between two curtains waiting for my number to come up (um, ok, bad choice of phrases), I overheard a conversation between a surgeon and his patient in the next door curtain. The victim, I mean, um, er, patient, seemed to have a deviated septum. For those non-medical types out there that haven't watched an episode of St Elsewhere, ER, or House, that is a displacement of the nasal cavity. And from their conversation, this deviation was caused from some accident. Here's the lovely conversation I heard between the surgeon and patient...

Surgeon: Hello sir, are you ready to go?
Patient: Yes, I think I am (with extreme hesitation in his voice)
Surgeon: Well, sorry we're running late...that last procedure took an extra hour and a half than I originally planned. It was a mess in there. (I think a HIPAA rule was just broken)
Patient: Oh. (I'm sure this extra information was TMI for someone about to go under)
Surgeon: I see the nurse briefed you on the procedure. We'll be repairing your deviated septum and you'll be on your way.
Patient: I have a question. (In a fearful voice as the surgeon seemed to be distracted and in a hurry....two qualities you don't want in a surgeon)
Surgeon: Sure, shoot.
Patient: How long will the procedure take?
Surgeon: About an hour or so, unless it's like the last one I just did, which is possible. If you had injured your nose a different way, this would be a lot easier. (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's what the surgeon said)
Patient: Ok. So, what should I expect post surgery?
Surgeon: You'll be groggy and the pain meds will work for a while, then they'll wear off and you'll be in some pain until your oral meds kick in. (Then the surgeon proceeded to graphically describe how gross his nose would be. I'll spare my blogging audience that visual)
Patient: Ok. (Thinking "Sorry I asked")
Surgeon: Well, I'll see you in the operating room!

I stopped for a moment and thanked God that I've never had a surgeon like that and said a prayer for Mr. Patient. If he hadn't thought I was a complete whacko, I would have gone over there and given him a hug. I wonder if this is what healthcare reform will look like.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Table Topics - Movie Lines

I love quoting movies. They provide some of the greatest phrases to use in multiple situations and, being a verbatim brain, it challenges my mind to recall them in a moment's notice. This table topic was somewhat inspired by Katrina's post on movie quotes she uses in everyday conversation. I thought I was the only person that used movie quotes on a daily basis. Some of my favorite "everyday" quotes are...."You're killing me Smalls!" from one of my favorite baseball movies, The Sandlot...classic. And, when someone says something crazy, a former boss of mine and I used to say "Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder?" from that SNL-inspired classic, Wayne's World. There are others....but then there are other quotes that are memorable for other reasons...

My all-time favorite line, the one that I pattern my life after, from Steel Magnolias, "I'd rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."

My favorite line that somewhat describes the spirit that is me, from Mona Lisa Smile, "Not all who wander are aimless. Especially not those who seek truth beyond tradition, beyond definition, beyond the image."

My favorite romantic movie line (and this one was tough to pick) from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, "Why? Why do you love me?....Because I came alive when I met you."

My favorite movie soliloquy that sums up my calling in ministry and always brings me to tears, from Mr. Holland's Opus, "Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life."

So, today's table topic....

"What movie lines are your favorites?...define your life?....come up in everyday conversation?"

Please press play, and please be kind and rewind when you are done.