My wife and I have recently started watching a new series called TURN: Washingtons Spies. Set in the late 1700s, this series is based on real characters involved in the Revolutionary War, serving as our nation’s first spies. I was intrigued by the show because I love the era, but I was captured by the show because I discovered it teaching me things about myself.
Here they are in no particular order.
1. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself, that will have a culture shifting effect on future generations. Watching the show, I’ve actually thought, “man, I wish I could have been there”. What an exciting and important time to be alive! And what a huge impact these people had on the world. It may sound self-indulgent, but it’s certainly not meant that way. I just want to be a part of something positive that’s bigger than my small and short life. God created us for this longing, and in part, for this reason – for the fame of Jesus and the benefit of the city.
2. I don’t mind leading from the background, and have found this season of my life to be potentially very healthy. For the last 15 years, my leadership has either been mostly or completely “from the front”. Currently, my leadership is more in the background and I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it. I don’t know that I’ll be in this position forever, but that doesn’t really matter much to me right now. What I’m learning from this seat is the reminder that leadership is mostly about service, selflessness, and giving other people the credit. Not many people knew Abe’s name, and it didn’t matter. George Washington served an important role and really, Abe’s was no less significant.
3. I prefer careful thought, strategy and process-oriented movement, over hard and fast, brute force movement. Let’s face it, the style of warfare back then was just goofy. No way I’d do it, but not because I’m a coward. Instead it’s because it’s just not strategic enough for me. I understand there was great strategy in Britian’s warfare tactics, and they essentially ruled the world with it for a long time. But It lacked creativity and finesse, and the absence of those things can drive me crazy. If I would have served in the army back then, I probably would have been court marshaled for criticizing the system.
4. I work well on a team and have a healthy understanding of authority, but also have the ability and desire to make important decisions on my own. Abe knew who he worked for, but he also made big decisions on his own. He was a part of the team, but could play in such a way that he was often out on his own. It wasn’t either-or for him, it was both-and. I’ve spent time as an “only-lonely” pastor (the most depressing phrase on the planet), and as a part of several large and small teams. As a leader, and someone who’s devoted to community, mixing accountability and independence is an ideal recipe.
5. I am not a niche player, and have skills (and interests) in a variety of leadership areas. Abe seemed to be one of those guys that could fit in a variety of situations. I’m very comfortable around church people, and people far from God. I like young people, and those who have tons more life experience than I. I can relate to people from most every walk of life and I’m a “generalist” type leader than can fill several slots on the team at the same time. I’m flexible and adaptable. Abe had to play both sides, and would often have to improvise.
6. I often don’t realize the large effect my small actions have, both positively and negatively. Most of the things – taken individually – that Abe did, didn’t really matter all that much. But combine them all together, over the course of several years, and he played a key role in whining America’s freedom. I’ve learned to take this truth as both encouragement and warning. Small things I do, can have a big effect. And, unfortunately, this is just as true (if not more so) with how I can hurt people as it is with how I can help people. I’ve never shot anyone with a gun, but my little verbal shots can have a very big negative impact. With God’s grace, he’s restoring both me and those I’ve wounded in the past.
7. I need people in my life that help me stay on the right trajectory. So far, almost everyone around Abe has had to at one time or another, remind him of what he’s doing and why; to stay the course. He’s gotten frustrated, confused and filled with doubt. But his friends are there to set him right again, and I’ve found that the more of this I have in my life, the better I am at what I’m doing, and the greater benefit I am to the people around me.
Are there stories in your life that you’re relentlessly attracted to? What might those stories be telling you about yourself, and how might these realizations help you to learn and grow?