In late May, I told myself that I wasn’t going to take the summer off from the blogging. I was afraid I’d lose the folks who regularly read it (thanks, you two in Alaska!). Despite good intentions, however, the siren call for a well-needed rest was strong, and I forgot to lash myself to the mast (that’s a reference to The Odyssey– shout-out to you literary types!).
I’m grateful to be back at the keyboard, and I’m extremely grateful for the time away, because God taught me several things while I was living more than writing. So, here’s the first of three blog posts that will cover some things God taught me, kind of a “how I spent my summer vacation”, if you will:
- Do you live out what you want to see reproduced in your people?
If you lead a company, an organization, a ministry, a classroom, or your family, you are the chief symbol for what that group values. I knew this before, but studying George Washington in my PhD program this summer really hammered that home for me. That man was far from perfect, but what he did exceedingly well was to live out the republican virtues of the fledgling new nation he and others were trying to build. When the end of the war came, and victory with the British secured, there was tremendous pressure on Washington to simply hang onto the near-monarchical power he had been given and become our new king, as Cromwell had done day before him and Napoleon would do afterwards. Washington is most remembered, most greatly revered not for what he did, but for what he gave away—in that moment, walking away from absolute power, and embodying the ideal of military power subject to civilian control. This great concept kept our nation from dying in the cradle, and has sustained us for over 200 years. And, it has become such a part of who we are because this man modeled it.
What are the godly virtues that your family or company or ministry or class values? Integrity? Loyalty? Love? Respect for each other? Hard work? Who your people are and what they become are defined, in large part, by what you model. Do you live out what you want to see reproduced in your people? As researcher Christian Smith encourages parents, “we produce what we are.” We are the living symbol for those we lead, the revelation that living those values are not only possible, but preferable. I am grateful to God and Washington for reminding me of that.