I find myself more grateful these days, probably because I’ve had a bit more time to reflect on my life, and also because I know that there are people who are persevering in much more arduous circumstances.
In the midst of my grief on behalf of others, I’m realizing that the things that worry me aren’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.
Older, wiser friends have given me good advice lately, and I thought I’d share some simple snippets of wisdom that have come my way in recent days.
1. Lesson 1 – “Lead like Jesus”
This bit of advice came this past week from Dave Jennings, the Director of the New Life Community Health Center and the Vice President of Nyack College. Dave is a phenomenal leader, and in many respects, I’d be a lucky man if I could become a leader like him.
Over the past couple of years I’ve been reading a ton about leadership. I’ve gone to conferences, scoured podcasts, books, blogs – anything I could get my hands on, really. Being surrounded by so many great leaders at New Life Fellowship has helped too, and so I’ve been a bit of a maniac about some of the principles I’ve been learning.
Meanwhile, I’ve been fumbling about as a leader, making my fair share of mistakes, disappointing others, getting frustrated with myself in the process.
I had fallen into a bad habit of dissecting my every move and decision, testing the wisdom of my perspective against the latest thoughts on leadership by Pete Scazzero or Andy Stanley or John Maxwell.
Earlier this week, I sat down with Dave and chatted briefly about some of my reflections about leadership.
In the midst of my angst, Dave leaned back in his chair with hands on his head, smiled, and then said, “Drew, just lead like Jesus would, and you’ll be fine.”
I know, it sounds pretty simple, but his comment really struck me. In some weird way, I had been searching to be more like Jack Welch or Bill Hybels, instead of reflecting more on the very simple question – what would Jesus do?
Anyhow, thanks for the advice, Dave. I trust I’ll keep coming back to your words at various times throughout my life – “Just lead like Jesus, and you’ll be fine”.
2. Lesson 2 – “You are God’s Beloved”
This past week was an anomaly of sorts because I had a chance to meet with different mentors at various points throughout the week.
Leighton Ford happened to be in town for a conference, and he needed a ride to LaGuardia on Thursday morning and Pete asked if I was interested in giving him a ride (Leighton is Pete Scazzero’s primary mentor). I pushed some engagements around and made time to pick him up in Manhattan and drive him to the airport.
One stalled big rig on the Queensboro bridge ruined our plans, so he ended up taking a cab instead. I was bummed.
Leighton arrived at LGA really quickly though, so he called me up and asked if I’d be willing to meet him at the airport for 30 minutes or so for a chat.
I zoomed over there from Astoria, and ran to the terminal as fast as I could so we could sit down and talk.
And yes, getting 30 minutes with Leighton is worth all the trouble of big rigs, airport parking, and uncomfortable LGA terminals.
Leighton is now 79 years old, and there’s a certain air that he possesses that is quite healing. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I’d highly recommend that you read his book The Attentive Life to see what I mean – it’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life.
Anyhow, I’ve been a huge beneficiary of Leighton’s mentoring from people whom Leighton has mentored – which is quite a long list of extraordinary leaders, including Pete.
Leighton’s network has galvanized so many movements around the world, and so I finished our conversation with one question – “Leighton, if you were to give a piece of advice to a 31 year-old leader like myself, what would you tell me (and others in my season of life) knowing what you know and have experienced around the world?”
I suspected Leighton to give one of the following responses:
– Drew, be disciplined in your pursuit of God.
– Drew, make sure you value your marriage above any other commitment.
– Drew, keep the dreams alive.
Instead, Leighton pierced me with these simple words, “Drew, I would want you to know that you are God’s beloved.”
Leighton continued, “There’s a lot I don’t know and understand about today’s world and all the different innovative things happening, but the message I want young people like you to know more than anything is that you are God’s beloved.”
Leighton gave me a hug.
I drove home and I cried.
It’s really going to be okay. Life is going to be all right.
I am God’s beloved.
Sometimes the wisest words are the simplest words, too.