One of our favorite family vacation spots is St. George Island, Florida. It is an incredible place to visit located on the Florida panhandle. There is a scenic, 4.1 mile bridge that connects the mainland to the island. As the vacation begins, the bridge symbolizes an exciting sense of arrival and anticipation of the week to come. As the vacation ends, it symbolizes the return trip home.
We usually travel at night on long trips. There are several reasons for this. Everyone sleeps most of the way, it reduces the need for pit stops, and there is less traffic on the road. All contribute to beating the time the GPS says the trip home “should” take! You know you do it too, do not judge! Community leaders do not judge each other! There will be a post that covers this topic at some point in the future!
I had driven over this long bridge many times before. I had done it from the driver’s seat and as a passenger in the back of my parent’s car. Something was special about last summer’s return trip home though. As we crossed the Apalachicola Bay, there was a breathtaking sunset taking place. In that moment I started reflected on something that our kids had done right before we left the condo. They asked their mother and I if they could go out to the beach and say goodbye to the ocean. Together they set out to the beach to say their goodbyes while Shannon and I finished loading up the truck. As soon as they returned, we piled in the truck and set out for home.
Back to the view from the bridge and the sunset. I remember looking around the truck at Shannon, Ashtyn, and Grant. They were all gazing off into this majestic sunset. Then, something hit me like a ton of bricks. I could not help but run the numbers in my head. Shannon and I are in our late thirties, the kids are in middle school. How many more vacations do we have before they leave the house? I certainly hope not, but are we down to single digits? How many more opportunities will the four of us have to experience what we just did together? It was sobering. A flood of emotions ran over me. I wanted to press the slow-motion button on our lives right then and there.
Here are six important lessons I took away from that that moment on the bridge:
Time Is Precious
We hear this all the time, but it does not really sink in until there is an intersection like this. Time is precious. A good friend of mine and one of the best community leaders I know, Marlon Longacre once told me that, “the greatest resource one has to give is his/her time.” Time is the one thing we cannot make more of. You cannot slow it down. It will not stop. The sands of the hourglass continue to fall no matter how hard we try to fight it.
Home Is Where Time Is Well Spent
Regardless of how much time we have left, there is one place that offers a great return on investment. There is no better reminder for leaders in local communities than the importance of time spent at home. Under no circumstance can we afford to lose sight of that. Our professional and civic duties can be extremely demanding of our time. No doubt that stack of papers has to be graded, someone has to run the PTSA, the big game needs preparation, that sermon needs the finishing touches, the business will not succeed without the doors open, or that broken water main is not going to fix itself. The struggle is real! These things can add up and put home on the back burner. I do not recall who or where I heard this from, but the person said, “spend time with those that will cry at your funeral.” There could not be wiser words spoken. Spend time at home and spend it well.
Gratitude For Grace
Granted, home is where we receive the most grace regarding out time spent improving our community. It sacrifices. Our support systems know the demands from others on our time as community leaders. They know the different worlds we serve in. They accept who we were created to be. They know what makes us tick. We can’t take that grace for granted though. We should be grateful for those at home. We should express our gratitude for grace at home.
The Greatest Title
We all have titles in our community. Coach, teacher, pastor, owner, director, councilman, president, you name it. We wear many hats in community leadership, but there is no more important one than that of father, mother, husband, wife, mom, and/or dad. Wear the name badge proudly.
Better Home, Better You
Community leadership is the ability and willingness to use your influence to better others and the world you live in. The most important world you live in is home. Our success starts at home, it does not work in reverse order. Success outside of home does not always translate to success inside of it. It is easy for all of us to allow work and volunteer obligations creep in and take priority.
The better father and husband I am, the better leader I am in the workplace. The better father and husband I am, the better leader I am in volunteer service. As community leaders, our home life should be the foundation for everything else. If your foundation is not solid, whatever you put on top of it will fail. We should challenge ourselves daily to be better at home than any place else. Your community will be better for it.
We all need to do better here. I know I do. The gaming systems, the toys, the bicycles, they do not last. Experiences last. The memories made for our children on this vacation will outlast me and my time here on earth. The bike rides, the fish caught, the kites flown, the seafood eaten, the sandcastles built, and that sunset. Personally, I have never regretted going on any vacation, any last-minute weekend getaway, any camping trip, or any ballgame. I regret single every single one we did not take. Create experiences.
This blog was written when we got back in town from the trip to St. George. It sat on Evernote until today. I pray the lessons learned on that bridge inspires you to be better at home, in order to better others and the world you live in, with the time you have left!
Ordinary To Extraordinary Intersection
Do I truly understand time is precious? How am I performing in my leadership role at home? Am I creating experiences for my family that will outlive me?