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  • Writer's pictureEric Cline

You Are Never Not Leading, Except When You Are Not!

Updated: Jul 5

Our Absence and Our Presence.

This is a message for us guys who desire to participate in men's ministry, who hope to live a godly life, and lead our families in the way God desires. We are encouraged when we fellowship with other men and we seek to follow in the path of Christ.

I traveled to visit a good friend, a brother in Christ – indeed a mentor – whose wife recently passed into glory. As the leader of a men's ministry, he and his friend had planned a men's get-together BBQ for about thirty to forty guys scheduled for the next day. We swung by the church and filled two coolers with ice. We then went and purchased frozen hamburger patties, four dozen buns, bags of chips, and condiments. My friend and I had not shared time together in over thirty years, so you can imagine there were few crickets in our conversations. He placed checkmarks next to each item on his rather detailed shopping list. As a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, he was accustomed to organization and procedure.

When we returned to his home, he placed the frozen hamburger in the freezer, and I left all the room temperature items in the bags and set them in the living room. We placed the coolers in the breezeway and felt responsible that we had placed two folding chairs alongside so that we would not forget them. Everyone was advised to bring their own chairs. He sliced the onions and placed them into a zipper-lock bag and refrigerated them along with the tomatoes and lettuce. The paper plates, plastic cups, and box of disposable forks, knives, and spoons he had gotten earlier were stored in the trunk of his car. He set a three-pound can of beans (his secret recipe) on the kitchen counter so that he would remember to empty them into a crock pot and preheat them before the event. He felt pretty proud of himself that he had thought to include one of those disposable plastic liners to make cleaning the crock pot easier.

In the morning, we visited his wife's grave at the national cemetery. She had been such a blessing to me and to so many people. She is remembered as the "hug lady." There is something peaceful about a cemetery and as a veteran, national cemeteries stir additional emotions.

Before leaving the house for the BBQ, he realized it would be better if we took his SUV rather than his car, so we removed some items from the SUV to make room. I placed the coolers and the chairs into the SUV along with all the bags of stuff I had placed in the living room. He retrieved the frozen hamburger patties from the freezer, and we put them alongside the bags in the SUV. We carefully wedged-in the warmed crock pot of beans. It was about a forty-minute drive to his friend's house for the BBQ and when we arrived, I saw he had quite the spread. The pond on his expansive property had fish, he had an above ground swimming pool complete with a makeshift beach, and he had more yard to mow than even he desired.

My friend led us in prayer and his friend began preparing the burgers. I happily set out the chairs we brought. Upon unloading the rest of the items from the SUV, I discovered we had forgotten all the products from the trunk of his car! One of the guys left immediately to go purchase paper plates, cups, and plastic forks, knives, and spoons. I then realized that we had also neglected to retrieve the refrigerated onions, tomatoes, and lettuce! I think we considered not telling anyone in hopes they might not miss having the prime fixings for a hamburger, but we did – and they did. A few of the guys playfully bantered how much better the burgers would have been with something other than just mayonnaise and ketchup. But the fellowship truly was wonderful, and the burgers sans-tomato, -lettuce, and -onion were delicious.

You are never not leading except for when you are not. My presuppositions about my friend always being the leader interfered with my own leadership abilities. This still-very-capable man had recently lost his wife, and I did not take the time to think that he may need just a little bit of help in remembering a few details. I am certain that even with all of his organizational skills, he was accustomed to his wife handling many of their day-to-day details. I imagine many of us "over-depend" upon our wives and others. Everyone is allowed to take a break now and then from having to "always be on" but I, for one, will begin paying more attention for when I need to be more supportive. This is not about forgetting onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, but about the absence of our attention to the details and the presence of our presuppositions that truly make a difference.

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