For over 30 years my mother, Ann Linch, sat in a bank chair right off the Main Street in Fayetteville, Georgia. If you lived in that growing community in the late 1970’s through the early 2000’s, there is a pretty good chance that you knew my mom.
She may have opened your first checking account, gotten you set up with your financials to buy your first home, or helped you set up a plan to save so one day you could retire. Her job was not about money but rather it was about people. I remember so well how she would bake a pound cake to “run” by someone’s house on their birthday or have their favorite cookies ready when she dropped by after work to help an older couple balance their checkbook.
I do not know if she necessarily loved banking, but she sure loved people. At every dinner table conversation, she would always tell me the story of one of her “customers.” I never knew any names but I grew up knowing that she not only knew their names, but knew their stories.
Mom learned their stories because she never believed that any of these interactions were by accident, but they were in reality INTERSECTIONS that the Lord had designed. This person or couple did not just happen to drop by the bank, the Lord had sent them to her to meet and help.
Her job was never just a job but rather an unexpected place to be known and heard. While at the bank in her office, they were going to get some of her thoughts on how to handle money and also (whether they wanted it or not) how to handle life. She would ask all of them about church and if they did not have one, she would point them in the right direction. They would open up about things they were going through and facing in life, knowing that she cared and would pray for them. Her passion and joy was to help them with more than just money but to help them navigate this crazy world!
As I look back on this special lady who left this world in May of 2017 just after that Mother’s Day, I did not realize she had left me lessons of how to use my “Main Street” to make a difference. I remember standing in the receiving line at her memorial service and meeting all of these “customers” and hearing their stories about my mom. Every story was unique and different, but all of them had the same themes to them. “I loved your mom because…she was so kind, she genuinely cared about me, she helped me with my…, she prayed with me and for me, she was different, she always knew my name, I trusted her, etc.” I remember my brother, sister, and I just being blown away at the mark she had left.
A young lady from Senoia, Georgia with a high school degree who had used her life to deposit a blessing into everyone that she met. I had never seen my mom as a leader but that is exactly what she was for so many. She led at the bank with “how” she worked and she led in the community with “how” she loved and served. I saw it all come together as I looked at an overflowing crowd of people who came together to celebrate the life of this 79 year old lady.
Here are just a few of my “leadership & main” lessons that I learned from my mom as a community leader:
Your education and degrees matter but are of no worth if they are not accompanied by hard work.
You do not have to be the smartest person in your office or business, but sure better work the hardest.
Never judge a book by its cover
She shared so many times about these “customers” who walked in with their overalls on or just jumped out an old truck and how these most of the time were the most successful people.
Everyone is better at something than you are, so don’t think too highly of yourself
No matter a person’s background or profession, they most likely have a gifting that you do not have. This should keep you grounded and be a reminder to be respectful of everyone you meet.
You will always have what you need if you are a giver
My mom modeled this in our life in an incredible way. She gave constantly and to so many. A $10 bill in a card or a roll of quarters for college laundry or a constant $50 check to get many through a tough time. The crazy part was that she left bonds and 529 plans for our children that are still giving to our family today.
People are the most important thing
My mom genuinely loved people and left her legacy through the lives not just of her customers but her children and grandchildren.
Treat anyone older with dignity and respect
They have a story behind their lives that makes them unique and special if you will stop long enough to listen. Growing up we were never allowed to call an adult by their first name but rather “Mr.” or “Mrs.” If we were somewhere and an older person walked in, we were always taught to give up our seat for them.
Love Jesus with all you have
One of the things looking back that I love the most is that my mom did not talk about Jesus just on Sunday but she genuinely let Him guide her life daily. Her bible was worn and her life pointed to Him constantly.
I would not be who I am today without my mom. I have sat in my own office off Main Street for the past 30 years in the Acworth/Kennesaw community and everyday I am guided in how I serve and live by her influence. I pray I can leave a mark on this world half as big as hers! I love you Mom – thank you for the legacy you left and for your lessons of how to use your life and leadership while sitting on Main!
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
Are you quick to judge a book by its cover? Are you a giver? Are people your priority? Do you genuinely care about your customers and/or the people you serve? Do you make a difference in your community in the space and place that God has put you? Most importantly, have you called your mom to tell her you love her today?
Mike Linch is the Senior Pastor at NorthStar Church and the host of the Linch with a Leader Podcast. Connect with Mike on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You can subscribe to the Linch with a Leader Podcast here.