Max De Pree wisely says the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. That’s sage counsel but it almost assumes a steady course and fair winds. What is the role of the leader when the bottom falls out and the reputation of the company and your personal integrity are being called into question. Reporters are showing up at the door and employees are losing their jobs. Millions in assets are being washed away. What’s the first responsibility of the leader then?
We talked a little Thursday night about those volcanic intrusions and upheavals in our lives and what is left standing when everything else has been eroded away. What is the immutable and irreducible core that remains? For some, it is the loss of a child. For others, it is the loss of a company or reputation. What is reality then?
Todd and Karen Hendricks are Gathering board members and have been active major donors to many ministries over the last several years. Todd loves adventure and putting himself at risk. That’s fine but he takes other people with him. He may call you from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Sudan and hand the phone over to someone who barely speaks English but Todd just wants you to experience the same joy he has in this new relationship. Typically, the person is completely unaware of the danger he is in by being with Todd. I try to console them and sometimes offer tips for living through the next few days.
But Todd is not just a white-water person. Down below the surface there is a subterranean river of strength, commitment, compassion and fidelity that is a powerful force. And Todd and Karen have been for me like trees planted by that river. They have been people willing to face and re-define reality. To be grateful and to be servants. I will not tell his story for him but only ask you to welcome Todd this morning.