I crouched down to get a closer look and knots formed in the pit of my stomach. Weeks of mounting anticipation, and now this – bitter disappointment. Moments earlier,I had been singing as I walked into the new kitchen addition. The shiny linoleum reflected the rays of the bright morning sun through the glass patio doors. Diamonds dancing in our home. Fresh. New.
The installer had mentioned the increase in room size would necessitate an additional length of flooring and, to accommodate, a joining-seam would be required.
“You won’t see it,” he assured me and I believed him. The work had been completed a few hours later and I was seeing the results for the first time.
I lowered myself to my hands and knees in order to inspect his work. My eyes widened. An ugly scar stared back at me, quickly transforming my joy to dissatisfaction. It shows – the seam shows!
And as long as I looked at that seam, I could not see the beauty in the rest of the room.
Ruth, how often do you stoop so low, just to see the condition of your flooring?
As I write today, I can see the humour in my actions, staring at the scarred floor which was, by the way, behind the table and not visible unless the furniture was moved and a low position assumed.
In my anxiousness for perfection, I missed the beauty so evident just moments before. I neglected to be thankful for all that we had gained with the new addition.
Sarah Young, in her book, Jesus Calling writes, “Once you become grateful for a problem, it loses its power to drag you down.”
I had never read Sarah’s book for it wasn’t written in the seventies but I experienced the reality of the quote the very next day.
I determined that the next time I entered the room, I would do so with a different focus, appreciating the shiny floor and the newly created space which would now accommodate our growing family. And oh what a difference that little change made.
How many times have I focused on the flaws in my own life, failing to be grateful for my God-given creativity? And how many times have I fixated on the flaws of others in my sphere of influence instead of looking past tiny imperfections to see the beautiful masterpiece they are in God’s eyes?
Biblical leaders demonstrated many flaws. I have often wondered if, had they been on my team, would I have even considered them a worthy co-worker, let alone a leader? When we meet Gideon in Scripture, we observe a man with insecurities and self-worth issues, imprisoned in a hole in the ground by his own fears and negative self-image. Would I have wanted to walk alongside Gideon? And yet the angel of the Lord appeared to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”
David, the best known King of Israel, failed in areas of fidelity and family matters. Yet God called him a man after his own heart.
Rahab had a reputation as a prostitute. Yet God saw beyond her faults and gave her the privilege of being the mother of Boaz and one of only five women in the genealogy of Jesus.
Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Seven Laws of the Learner, writes in his book about his first year as a Bible College professor. He had been assigned sections one, two and three as his students for that year. A seasoned faculty member met Bruce on his first day and expressed his surprise that Bruce had been so fortunate as to have section two, the best students, the honour students, the most outstanding group of students in the whole college, his first year.
The year progressed and Dr. Wilkinson proved over and over the validity of the words of that faculty. He loved his time and interaction with section two, whose marks were consistently above both section one and section three. As he said, “Section two always made my day.”
Just before midterms, Dr. Bruce had a meeting with the dean who asked how his first year was going and what was his favourite part of teaching.
“It’s terrific, better than I imagined and my favourite part is section two.” Dr. Bruce then went on to express his delight at teaching the honours class, with thirty of the keenest students, and outlining the differences between section two and the other two classes.
When Dr. Bruce finished singing his praises for this gifted group of young men and women, the dean said, “I’m glad that you’re having so much success, Bruce, but I need to tell you something that may surprise you – there is no honours class this year – we cancelled it.”
I read this story and pondered the great leadership lesson to be gleaned. When I expect the best in someone, overlooking their flaws and focusing on their potential, they will rise to the level of that expectation.
As I move forward as a Christian leader in 2017, I purposely want to look for the best in every person, seek out and encourage new leaders, and be thankful for the host of women who are just waiting for someone to spur them on.