A few weeks ago, we dissected the song Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson and what we can learn from it as community leaders. I feel confident that regardless of your preferred genre of music, you have heard it. Today we dissect another great song that may not be as widely known. In 1993, the legendary country music band Alabama released the song Angels Among Us. If you do not like country music, just bear with me. It will be worth it. Trust me. You may even end up with a new favorite song!
We will cover the lyrics, then I highly encourage you to spend four minutes and nine seconds watching and listening to the music video on Vevo. Just like Man in the Mirror, there are a lot of great things to watch in the video that you cannot see in just listening to it wherever you get your music.
Here is a breakdown of the verses, chorus, and bridge (in no particular order) and some thoughts on how they can impact our leadership capabilities within our communities:
I was walking home from school on a cold winter day
Took a shortcut through the woods and I lost my way
It was getting late and I was scared and alone
But then a kind old man took my hand, and led me home
Now mama couldn’t see him oh but he was standing there
And I knew in my heart he was the answer to my prayers
Lost My Way.
If you are human, at some point you have lost your way. Not just in your car or in the woods, but in life. If you have not, you are either delusional or perfect. The latter is unachievable, so that leaves one. Each of us has a story. In most cases, it took an “angel among us” to find our way. A coach, a teacher, a mentor, a co-worker, a pastor, a family member, or a friend. They were the ones that “took your hand and led you home,” you may not have realized it at the time, but they were the “answer to your prayers.”
When life held troubled times and had me down on my knees
There’s always been someone to come along and comfort me
A kind word from a stranger to lend a helping hand
A phone call from a friend just to say I understand
But ain’t it kind of funny at the dark end of the road
That someone lights the way with just a single ray of hope
Two weeks ago, we explored our Voices as community leaders. We talked about how our voices can be expressed both audibly and in writing. One valuable take away from this verse is the power of kind words. Do not walk past the stranger, acknowledge them, say hello, make eye contact. Write a handwritten note of gratitude to someone. Instead of listening to talk radio on the car ride home, call someone you have not talked to in a while. Check on them for no reason at all. Ask about his/her family. You will never regret making the call. You always leave the conversation grateful you did. These things can be uncomfortable but can separate you as a leader in your community.
Ray Of Hope
You never know what someone is walking through. How close they are to “the dark end of the road.” As a community leader, you have a responsibility to be a “ray of hope” to others. It is an awesome responsibility. One you should take very seriously. Inspire others with your presence, words, actions, and all means necessary. Shine bright for the benefit of others.
Oh I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love
They wear so many faces show up in the strangest places
To grace us with their mercy in our time of need
Angels Look Like Friends
I cannot help but think about what angels look like. Most people are conditioned to think they are outfitted in white, rock a halo, have wings and can fly! The music video highlights real life angels like John Winstead who was stabbed while saving a lady from being attacked, Harry Watkins who took on a drug issue in his community, Mike Tyree and Kelly Clem who rescued several people from a church destroyed by a tornado, Colonel Tom Reeves who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for saving lives, Mattie Dotson who fostered more than fifty children, and several others.
So many of the angels I have encountered in my life look like friends. My good friend and someone who has poured into my life over the years, Mike Linch says, “friends are those that walk in when everyone else is walking out.” Your “darkest hours.” The last year has been tough. COVID has rattled us, frustrated us, disrupted us, exhausted us, and created division among us. Jobs have been lost, businesses closed, and uncertainty has reigned. Regardless of the circumstances, your friends keep walking through the door “in our time of need.”
Teach Us How To Give
Despite the circumstances, we have all seen story after story of leaders in communities meeting these challenges head on. In the Acworth community, I have watched my good friend Todd Lollis and Freedom Church partner with Becky Cross and the Northwest YMCA to feed more than 175,000 people since COVID started. We have watched a ninety-four-year-old resident get her leaky roof replaced. A city employee down on his luck have complete strangers fund more than $4,500 in repairs to his car so he can keep his job. NorthStar Church purchasing tens of thousands of dollars of gift cards from local restaurants to help get through the initial shutdown. These are only a few examples, there are countless others.
You too have met these challenges head on. You have somehow taught virtual and in-person kids at the same time. You may have balanced your job and helping your child through virtual learning. You have led your business through uncertainty. Those seniors got to play their final season because you advocated for them. People that would have never walked through your church doors connected online because of your preparation in creating an online experience. You modified that program so that no one was left behind. You worked to exhaustion to be there for your patients as they fought COVID. You gave.
When the lead singer, Randy Owens sings the final chorus, he ends the song by repeating the final line. “Guides us with the light of love, guides us with the light of love.” What is the definition of love? I believe that the best one comes from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. Whether you are a Christian or not, you have likely heard this verse at a wedding. It reads, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.”
Now back up and read it again. Really think about it and digest it for minute. Regardless of where you stand in your faith, this is a pretty solid definition of love. Our communities could use more patience, kindness, humility, forgiveness, hope, and perseverance. Think about if we intentionally lived out these words each and every day with purpose. Our ability to use our influence to better others and the world we live in would be limitless.
As a community leader, you can and should be that angel to others. Help the person who has lost their way, use kind words, be a ray of hope, be the friend that walks in when everyone else walks out, give, and love. Listen to the song too! Do not forget that part!
Ordinary To Extraordinary Intersection
Who are those angels that have intersected your life? Do they know it? If not, tell them today. Send a text, a direct message, an email, a handwritten note, call them, or tag them in a post.