A Boy's Surprising Lesson
"As your new columnist for this newsletter, let me introduce myself. My name is Kevin Miller, and I've worked with Leadership Journal, the leading publication for church leaders, for 14 years. Currently, I'm editor-at-large. I've worked closely with my friend, Dave Goetz, for 6 years and am honored to take on his responsibilities as columnist. I look forward to meeting many of you through e-mail.
My father died 8 years ago this week, and so for my opening column, I wanted to reflect on a time he taught me something about Christian leadership:
Dad and I padded through the tall pines, our feet quiet on the carpet of brown pine needles. We had come to New Hampshire, just the two of us, something that had never happened before. I knew then that I, a full 11 years old, was becoming a man.
We placed our net, tackle boxes, and rods in the canoe, then slipped it quietly into the Ossipee River. As Dad paddled from the back, I cast my trustworthy Mepps lure near the lily pads. Father, son, canoe, water, fish, pines — this was boyhood heaven. I desperately wanted to show Dad I was worthy of the confidence he had placed in me by inviting me on this trip.
Two nights later, I awoke, painfully sick to my stomach. I feared I might throw up. I needed to get to the bathroom now. But the cabin was cold and dark, and I would have to climb out of my warm top bunk … Suddenly, I threw up over the side of the bunk.
My dad heard the awful splatter and came running in, flicked on the light, and surveyed the spreading mess. "Couldn't you have gotten to the bathroom?" he asked.
"I'm sorry," I said, knowing I deserved every angry comment that would come. I had done something foolish, messy, embarrassing — and worst of all, childish.
But my dad didn't yell. He didn't call me names. He shook his head a little, then left and came back with a bucket of sudsy hot water and a scrub brush. I watched, amazed, as he got on hands and knees and began scrubbing each pine board clean again.
When Dad died suddenly, he left me with that picture.
As Christian leaders, we face many awful and embarrassing messes. Our people may often let us down. But Jesus has already shown us what we must do in that situation: "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).
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