It seems that life is a constant balancing act. Sometimes we have to lead, sometimes we have to follow. We must at times take authority, while at other times we must defer that authority.
My wife and I raised 6 children: five boys, 1 girl. There was nothing we could do to get one of my boys to do our bidding. No screaming, shouting, cajoling or bribing worked. We had another boy though that would start crying if we slightly raised our voices. It was a constant balancing act. We had to ‘zig-zag’ our pedagogic style and make sure we didn’t ‘zig’ when we should ‘zag’, and not ‘zag’ when we should ‘zig.’
The same applies to money. There is a time when in order to economize we must save money, but at other times economizing comes by spending money such as repairing a needed part of the home or car. As they say, “A stitch in time saves nine!”.
A great king once summed it all up with, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecc 3:1-8) A sixties’ band beautifully put this to music:
Another dichotomy of life is: “Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!”
Leadership is often looked upon as a position of superiority, loftiness, and authority. These things may have their place but what makes a good leader? He who commands or he who listens? He who dominates or he who associates? He who leads or he who follows?
I heard it said one time, “A good leader is first a good follower.” English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” Whereas these ideas seem to be the epitome of dichotomy, it all depends on the way we see the role of leader.
I like to compare a leader to a doctor. It would be difficult to trust a doctor who would write a prescription as soon as you enter his office without asking you a single question. To know how to lead the doctor must first acknowledge to himself that he doesn’t know anything about our condition. He must listen, ask questions, and it is according to these answers to specific questions that he will be able to give his advice. Not only does he listen to us, but he listens to his years of studies.
Listening is not just the act of paying attention to what someone is saying to us while they are saying it. Listening is an attitude; it is an attitude that encourages people to talk. A good listener makes you feel comfortable to talk to them.
As leaders, the information we get from the people who talk to us is worth gold. It helps us shape our leadership style and program. But he who defines the style and program of his leadership without listening to people is doomed. Listening is not just the act of paying attention to what is being said to us while they are saying it. Listening is an attitude, an attitude shaped in the crucible of humility. The ability to listen makes all the difference in a leader.
Biology shows that our blood flow changes when we become embarrassed. That's why we blush or, in certain instances, become pale. On the subject, psychologist Zelig Pliskin says. “When you embarrass someone you cause him much pain. This suffering can be even much worse than that felt from a physical wound. … When you humiliate someone you lower his self-esteem...The ramifications of this are awesome!”
The modern phenomenon of cyberbullying is a testament to that statement. Embarrassing and shaming others can, in some cases, lead to suicide which can be construed as “Murder by Shame.” It doesn't only happen in schools. Our present mean, proud, and arrogant modern society is rife with those who think it is their right, if not their duty to expose others, and in so doing, attemp to elevate themselves by putting down those around them. But do they really elevate themselves?
Do we really elevate ourselves by putting others down? Does our candle shine any brighter when we blow out that of others? The answer of course is no. I heard it said one time that the quality of a true leader is to make others feel great, building others up instead of bringing them down.
I read an interesting take on the old story of Noah this week. We all remember that after coming out of the ark Noah planted and vine and got drunk. Without lingering on the details, the Bible tells us that one of Noah’s son, Ham, found his father in his tent in a compromising situation. Right away Ham went and publicized the issue to his brothers. Shem and Japeth, the two brothers immediately took a garment, and walking backward so as not to see him, covered their father. The commentator I read from brought out the fact that while Ham was quick to expose and thus disrespect his father, Shem and Japeth instead covered his indiscretions.
I think that is an excellent example of what we should do for each other. Instead of exposing each others’ shame, we should do what Shem and Japeth did which King Solomon later again expressed when he said, “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9 ESV)
Patrick G. Lumbroso
Estacada Rural Fire District No. 69
Station Phone: 503.630.7712
A laborer was asked one day, perhaps on a rainy day, “How are things going?” "I'm getting older and I feel so weak," the man replied. "My children constantly study and don't have time to help me out. I have to support my in-laws, and find the financial obligations a real burden. My wife is so sickly, and I feel like I'm falling apart." On another day, maybe a sunny day, the same man was asked the same question. With a big smile, he replied "I am so grateful to God for all of His kindness. Even though I am old, I am not only able to support myself, but I am even able to support the my children’s and in-laws’ studies. My wife is wonderful to me; with great sacrifice she makes me so happy."
We constantly choose how to view our life situation; even though nothing external has changed, we can still view our life in very positive ways.
I appreciated what Levi said last night at the volunteer meeting. When he spoke of the vetting that troubles provoke and of the tempering of friendship that difficulties create, he chose to take a positive outlook on the apparent troubles at his station.
Strong bonds between people are forged in the crucible of a fiery furnace.and there are times in our lives when projects, as well as relationships, need the strengthening and tempering that the “fire” of difficulties bring. It does makes all the difference in our outlook on life when we understand the problems that we face, not as a fire that would destroy us, but as a fire that strengthens our resolve.
If you appreciate these articles, support their upcoming publication in a book called, "REFLECTIONS OF A FIRE CHAPLAIN"