tree-background_111647470_73Today I was walking down the street, next to the place where once a majestic tree stood. Its trunk was over 2 foot across, signifying not only it’s growth, but also its length of stay along this street. I have no doubt of the long life, one growing stronger every year, reaching toward the sky and the source of its life in the sun. But then I noticed something that I never would have had the tree still been there. I saw a pine tree, maybe a little smaller than the other, but still majestic in its own right. But there was something different about this tree. Around three side I could see the evergreen needles filling in the space, hiding the truck as it grew. But on one side I saw very few needles, few branches, but plenty of openings to see the truck, exposed to world around it. Marks of growth that happened so close to the other tree which blocked the sun and precious space needed for growth. I wondered if this tree would ever grow branches and fill out with needles in this open space now that the other tree was removed. If it does, it will certainly take a lot of time.

I reflected on this tree for a moment, and then thought about so many people that I knew as leaders, pastors, or even friends. I wondered how many of those leaders were like the first tree, standing in the front, soaking up the sunshine, growing stronger and stronger, day by day. But this strength and growth coming at the expense of those they were leading. The others lived in their shadow, growing where they could, but never living a completely fulfilled life. This may have gone unnoticed until the leader was gone and then the scars, the bare spots were finally revealed. Is this the kind of leader and pastor that I want to become, to be known for? The answer comes as an emphatic, no! My hope and prayer is that all of those around me would live to their fullest potential, that place which God has called them in this life. My prayer is that I will not block the Son from anyone, that those who see me as their pastor will see not so much of me as Jesus Christ in me.

I pray for this also for all the world. That our leaders, local, nationally, and globally, will see their position as one of guidance and support and not one of power, discrimination, or oppression. We are all God children and we all deserve to stand in the Son, growing to the potential God has given to us. Even as parents we need to be aware of the raising of our children, that they may not be blocked by any of our lives causing scars of non-growth.

Let us all live our lives so that those around us are not dependent on us. Let us remember a quote from Mrs. Donnelly in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “There’s no such thing as an ending, just a place where you leave the story.” So let us be full trees, strong and mighty, growing in all areas of our lives. But most importantly, allowing all of those around us to do the same.