Last week was National Library week. As most of you know I work at the library. They took pictures the staff that work in the background and what we do in Cataloging, Technical Services and Administration. Most of the time when I tell someone I work at the Live Oak library, they tell me when they come in, they never see me. I explain to them where I work, about all of the labels, barcodes and information found in our Card Catalog, is me. (and my friend/coworker/boss)
You see just because you don’t see the work doesn’t mean it isn’t going on.
I was outside cleaning the yard with the boys a few weeks ago. Out past where they play there was a lot of underbrush. We are clearing that out for them to have a little bit more area to play. About a week later it rained pretty hard. The next day I went to walk out to my car, as I survey the yard I look down and seen little trees popping out of the ground. No more than an inch or two tall. These little buggers were popping up right where I walk to my car. I sure enough didn’t plant them, nor do I want them growing in my walkway. But while I was out there working my behind off chopping down trees in the woods, these overachievers were hiding under the leaves that had fallen during the winter, just getting their growth on. That hard rain had washed the leaves away and now these little guys were getting all the sunshine they needed.
But it’s only now that the leaves can do the work. You see the roots had to start. The Roots had to lead the way, planting a firm foundation. Where these little tikes are growing, is one of the hardest spots to grow in my yard. The rain runs down the main road, then runs down my dirt road and into my driveway then through my front yard past my house and into my backyard. As it goes through my front yard it runs under and around where my car is parked, that’s where it uncovered these spouts.
Water is one of the most powerful things on our planet and you wouldn’t think that an inch of water could do much damage. People have drowned in less. So these roots are not weak, they can hold their own they are firm in the foundation they are planted in.
As a director, as a leader, as an employee, I have to know what foundation I’m rooted in. I have to know where my strength comes from. I also have to know that not everything that I do is going to be seen and heard. I don’t lead, direct, and work just so I can look good or feel good. I’m too tired for that. If it was up to me I’d be at home chilling on the couch. You see I’ve been given a second chance. I’ve been given a second chance at life through Grace. Which means my goal is to show everyone else I come into contact with what a second chance looks like. As a parent, it’s my goal to teach my children that their life is not about them. We’re not here for us.
We are born with instincts on how to get things for ourselves, wailing at the top of our lungs as babies, crying for everything that we want. It’s only as we grow and mature that we learn to serve others. Now I figure you’re probably thinking gosh this one’s getting serious, well maybe just a little bit. This is a serious subject for me. I know a couple of you reading this are laughing now, just because I wrote serious. FYI for those who don’t know this is an inside joke at church during announcements.
Some leaders are born, some leaders are made, some leaders are shaped by the circumstances they grow up in, others have no choice in the matter because no one will step up to the plate. Those roots for those little bitty trees will grow and grow and grow and unless I do something about them they will be there a hundred years from now. Holding firm through hundreds of hurricanes, thousands of Florida storms, and some of the most blistering summers anyone could live through. They won’t stop growing, pulling nutrients from the ground, won’t shrink and wither away, they will be there. They will be there underground, never seeing the light of day, leading the way for the tree above ground to live a full life. They will be there never fully appreciated for the beauty that they are, the strength that they provide, or given a second thought to as homes are made in the tree and later possibly out of the tree. (Trees are awesome by the way)
(The Tree of Life in Olympic National Park Washington)
So if you’re going to be a leader, someone who makes a stand about something, or someone who speaks out trying to make a difference, know where your foundation is know what you’re rooted in. If you’re somebody who works behind the scenes never seen daylight like those roots, remember that it’s not always about the recognition. One of the things I like the most about working in the back is when I come out to the front, I see all those little ones over there in the kids section looking at books and figuring out what they want to take home, just generally enjoying themselves with what I have helped put on the shelf. They could really care less about who I am, I’m okay with that.
You see unless you dig up every piece of the roots of a tree gently and carefully almost archaeological style you’ll never really know just how far down it goes. Most of the time when land is being cleared the trees are just pushed over. We really don’t know how deep some roots go, we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of every operation, sometimes all we see is the end result, the flowers, the acorns, the new growth, or a grand play being put on at church.
So the next time you start looking at something make sure you appreciate what’s going on behind the scenes. The next time you think about stepping up for a leadership position, or a directorship or getting a job, remember the sacrifice that are involved and what the true prize is. The time and effort you put into everything you do, that serves someone else will be more rewarding than you can ever imagine.