Sometimes small and unexpected words of encouragement can go a long way. I must admit that being an encourager is something I struggle with as a leader. I often think I need to do more to encourage our staff and students. Sometimes in leadership, as you deal with problems and challenges, it can be easy to lose sight of the positive and the big picture. In recent weeks, I have often found myself, at the end of my day, asking myself if I did something of eternal value.
One particular evening as I contemplated this question while sitting in my home, I was sent some reminders of the importance of the tasks we do. My wife already felt poorly and then a stomach bug made a guest appearance. As I finished up helping to care for my sick daughter, my youngest announced to me that his toilet was clogged. I’ll spare you the details, but it wasn’t a pleasant fix. After dealing with those three issues, I found myself in the kitchen doing some dishes.
The events of that evening in my home caused me to reflect upon the importance of both my and our staff’s daily tasks here at Oneida. Some days we reach the end of the day and are not exactly sure of what we did all day, but we always seem to stay plenty busy. Every task, pleasant or not, we perform on this campus is ultimately to benefit our young people and to enable them to have a positive experience.
One of our international students recently slipped me a note of encouragement. In the note he said, “I had a hard semester. Even if I engaged into a harsh situation or conflict, I could not complain to adults nor my parents because I know people here work hard and pour love into us. I remember our Student Council meeting and my plan to make some complaints about other kids in the school, but when I listened to you, I was embarrassed that I was planning to complain. You were sincerely thinking about how to help people and make a better life for everyone here. It inspired me and I thought I wanted to be like you. Thank you for showing me how to be a leader and to love people even if they treat you disrespectfully. I hope you and all Oneidians receive many blessings in the next year.”
This young man’s note encouraged me to not grow weary of well-doing or of the tasks that seem difficult or somewhat drab. As you reach the end of your day today and as each of our laborers complete each of their days here at OBI, it is my prayer that we will all have done something good, encouraged or helped someone in need, and pointed others to Jesus. Even we don’t know that someone like my young international friend—and our Lord—is watching what we do.