Leadership is Lonely

February 2, 2005

Leadership styles are as varied as the leaders who display them. This has been true since the beginning of time and a quote from Sister Tomas Moore Bertels reminded me some years ago that “Leaders are for a season and for a particular reason.”

A good example is found in Exodus 17 with the account of Joshua and his battle with the Amalekites; however, as if this enemy was not enough, there was also “war in camp”, as my mother used to say. The Israelites were camped in the desert and there was no water for the more than 1 million people.

They had been slaves in Egypt for 430 years and finally, through one of their own, God made it possible to leave the land on their way to freedom.

Of course, the road was not easy and they often accused Moses of taking them places they did not want to go and causing their early deaths. They thought it would be better to have stayed in Egypt where they enjoyed fresh fruit and vegetables.

On this particularly hot and dusty day, there was no water. So, they started in on Moses again. Moses pleased with God and He provided fresh water for them at the rock at Horeb.

Now, to the Amalekites. They attacked the Israelites at Rephidim and Moses called Joshua for help.

Moses knew that extra help was needed, so he took his brother Aaron and Hur, possibly the son of Caleb who had worked along side of Joshua, and they went up to the mountain overlooking the battlefield.

As a sign of victory and blessing, Moses raised his arms. As long as they were raised, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his arms, they would lose.

His arms grew weary, so Aaron and Hur set him on a rock and supported his arms in the air to assure victory.

To make this relative to today, knowing that December was a difficult month for our community leaders, I can see the importance of being supportive and, in many ways, literally holding up their arms to keep them from tiring and being discouraged.

Santa Paula has come a long way from “Egypt”, so to speak, in only two years, and we are rapidly approaching a time of opportunity and prosperity. The challenge is tough, and we are blessed with civic leaders who need to know they are appreciated and supported.

I’ll even commit to being a “Hur”.

Nothing New Under The Sun – Mom was right.

May 29, 2006

My mom was a self-educated philosopher—so I thought. She was quick to remind us six kids that, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I always wondered how she knew that.

What she meant by that statement was that we couldn’t fool her. She knew about all “that stuff”—after all, there is nothing new under the sun.

That statement was made a long time before my mom made it, and it was King Solomon who said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

There is some comfort in knowing this, but no comfort when you think that terrible events and cruelty against people have always been as they are today.

It’s hard to imagine that fathers have always thrown their children out of hotel windows, or that mothers tossed their children off the Golden Gate Bridge. But, we know from history that such acts have been a part of the human condition since it began. We have access to so much information these days, it is hard to escape the global tragedies of even far away places.

In the context of King Solomon’s statement, he was reminding the people of Israel that without an eternal perspective, all of life is futile and without purpose. There are days when life seems to be an endless cycle of activity. Those days existed even back in 931 BC when King Solomon received a wise and understanding heart from God in order to rule the nation of Israel after the death of his father, King David.

Solomon was so smart, that the Queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to confer with him, mostly about how the King acquired his wealth—and kept it. Make no mistake; however, the Queen had acquired her own share of wealth along the trade routes.

We know from history that there is nothing new under the sun and that a life lived with purpose is more fun and more memorable than one with aimless expectations.

Mom agreed with King Solomon on that one too.

The Love Behind the Leash


How do you know when you have gone too far?

A few months ago, we adopted a young dog and I realized the importance of rules. In 1997, our wonderful five pound poodle died at the age of 17. We have since added three rescues and now see how the original Bear had organized our household.

The cats knew their place and how close to approach Bear’s food. They didn’t venture into his space at bedtime but were on cordial terms during the day. Bear told us when it was time to go for a walk or have dinner. He was also able to tell us when it was time to say goodbye at the end of his life.

When we acquired our first new dog, the rescue worker advised us to keep him on a leash for a while. It seemed odd and unnatural to us, but I can’t remember better advice.

Without that leash, the dog’s life with us might have been short-lived. He saw the cats as sport, wouldn’t eat the food that Bear did, and shot like a bullet out the pet door after anything that moved. So, on with the leash.

The leash kept him close to Howard during the day and close to us at night. Keeping him close kept him out of trouble and we discovered that it added an element of security for all of us. During those first few days of keeping the cats out of the house, he would snap at us during the admonition while he made his own way to the dog cage we kept in the living room for time out. He could not tolerate loud voices. When his behavior deserved it, we would whisper, “KD, go to your cage.”

He reached a point where he recognized his own bad behavior and would go to his cage if I simply pointed to it.

At night, we keep KD on a leash to prevent him from going off the races at the sound of a feather in the wind or a squirrel on the roof. When lights out arrives, he seems to welcome the latching of the lease, knowing everyone was in for a good night’s sleep. We have followed suit with our two subsequent pals, Jonathan and a “new” Bear.

While the idea of being on a leash is not a pretty picture for us humans who have the free will to explore, imagine or experience, I think we can all relate to having gone too far in some areas of our lives. A leash would have been a great idea.

When I depart from the straight path and doing things that are good, I get off balance. Examples are eating right, eating too much or too little, worrying, skipping the treadmill, reading daily devotions or church. That leash is a good thing. It keeps us out of trouble and away from dangerous places. Just might work for children, too.