In a world that has invented sound bytes, headlines, instant coffee, fast food, gogurt, 140 characters, and hot pockets, I am developing an increasing affinity for anything that takes awhile. Rosanna and I spend an odd amount of time discussing the benefits of French press coffee over instant coffee, slow roasted meats over the salted cured type, and why the loss of the cassette tape has killed the music listening experience (another blog post altogether, ha!).
I say this because I have to remind myself quite often that although our world is increasingly instant, not everything is good when it comes to us without proper aging. For example, becoming a person worth following, speaking, teaching, or marrying, happens when a person has spent some time yielding to and not avoiding God’s preparation.
We may not realize it at first glance, but over time, we notice the difference between the leader, speaker, teacher, or spouse that yields and the one that avoids. It’s the difference between French press and instant coffee. You don’t notice with a quick glance, rather when you actually drink it.
I moved to Atlanta, GA almost two years ago to lead and work with a team of people every day, something I had never really done before. I had given a lot of talks and sermons, but I was horribly afraid of becoming someone who stood on a stage and talked because I had to say something, not because I had something to say. We’ve all heard talks like this. They lack richness, texture, and boldness, words that seem to come from a zip locked bag, not a fresh garden. You don’t notice with a quick glance, rather when you actually listen.
In leadership, I think the difference between the two is someone who lives and works with people on a regular basis for an extended period of time, committed to sticking with them, and committed to seeing an important mission accomplished beyond making money. I have quit on more people than I care to admit, and quit more jobs than I should have, but sticking with something changes us in a way that nothing else can. I am beginning to believe that longevity is the new sexy.
On occasion, I meet a youth pastor in their fifties or sixties, and I used to wonder why they would still want to work with students. I remember meeting someone recently who had taught Math to 8th graders for 32 years, and I couldn’t help but think, “why not at least move to 9th grade for a change?” In reality, the most beautiful people with the richest character are those who have committed themselves to something or someone, never abandoning them for more money or a better opportunity. I think this is why going to college is still important too. I was talking with a high school student recently who told me he didn’t want to go to college because all the information was online. Perhaps he is right, but college is more about the experience of being in one location and you have to stick with something for an extended period of time.
Maybe you are in something today that makes you feel stuck, and you are questioning whether or not it is time to leave. I am not suggesting an answer. I am suggesting what may be on the line is a beautiful richness and texture to your character that is only possible if you stay where you are.