The Cycle

I have always loved the mornings.  There is just something about the stillness of the start of the day.  When I was younger, I would often set my alarm each night so I could get up early and go fishing the next day.  It wasn’t really about catching the fish- it was the quiet and soothing stillness of the morning that captivated me.  I would often turn off the alarm and roll over and skip the fishing, but when I won the battle with my pillow, I would walk out and really soak in the special sensation of a new day. 

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The new day offers a new beginning.  The old is gone and the new is here.  It is part of the cycle of life.  Have you ever noticed the things around us that operate on a cycle?  The days, the seasons, the tide, the economy, the weather.  These cycles are knit into the very fabric of life.  God designed it perfectly- yet we often think we can beat these cycles.  We think we can go without stopping.  We think things will always be the same forever.  We think we can master and control everything.  Wow- how can we be so naive?  Here are some characteristics of these cycles that we need to consider as we lead:

Rest

Everyone needs to rest, sleep, and recharge.  As leaders, we have to be sensitive to weariness.   Constantly pushing hard and working without rest or a period of rejuvenation is dangerous and counterproductive.  God rested on the seventh day and he worked a rest period in every facet of nature.  There is a point that you reach diminishing returns and beyond this point you can seriously damage relationships.   You must have the discipline to stop.  Stop and rest.  Periodically have a fun activity where you can simply laugh and enjoy each other.  Fight the urge to press on when you know your group is exhausted.

Reflect

Each day we will typically stop and reflect on the day that has passed and map out our strategy for the next day.  This reflection is a natural part of the cycle.  As leaders, we often get caught up in our processes and fail to pull back and reflect on how we are doing.  We may evaluate periodically, but often without any regularity and generally when there is a problem.  Be objective.  If their appears that something is wrong, then address the problem as it is unlikely that it will just go away.  Get in the habit of performing a regular review.  Don’t get consumed by the process.

Regroup

The cycle of life naturally results in a gathering.  The flocks will come together to move as a group.  Fish will school together for protection.  We are designed to be in community.  A healthy habit is to gather your group together and discuss how you are doing.  Leaders often have a far different perspective than the team members.  Leaders must model open discussion by sharing their feelings and being honest and vulnerable.  An honest discussion will bear valuable fruit and lead to productive changes and improvements.  Change is part of the cycle.  Nothing except God is meant to be the same forever.  We are continually growing and changing.  Embrace this fact and don’t fight it.

Cleanse

The natural cycle also has a cleansing element that removes the old and brings in the new.  The winter cleanses the landscape and resets the ground for the new spring growth.  The tide scrubs surfaces with moving water, removing waste and replenishing backwaters.  Leaders should review and cleanse to maintain a fresh and efficient operation.  Our tendency is to continue with what has worked in the past, yet we really know in our hearts that times are changing.  Often our equipment is old and outdated.  There may be dirt and debris that needs to be addressed.  If you wait too long you will have a breakdown or your operation will be seriously outdated.  You may also have to change personnel.  Don’t sacrifice your entire operation over a few bad components.  Cleansing is a natural process of maintaining a healthy and productive environment.

 Above all don’t fight the cycle!  There is a season and time for everything.  Things will come and go, grow and die.  We will be up and then we will be down.  Our tendency is to try to extend the cycle or keep things the same.  We want everything that is good to continue forever.  We must understand that this is not consistent with our world and His design.  We have to be ready to let it go when it has run its course.  Don’t despair.  This is part of the cycle.  It may be painful letting go- but there is hope and there is a new tomorrow.  Go ahead- set your alarm and wake up and bathe in the soothing stillness of a new day.

Have you tried to fight the cycle?  Please press comment and tell me what you think!

The Seed Vault

I watched a fascinating story last week about a seed vault in Norway that stores seeds from all over the world in case of a global disaster.  The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is located on an island off the coast of Norway, near the Arctic Circle in an old coal mine.  The seed vault is located 390 ft inside of a mountain and is 430 feet above sea level, so that even if the polar ice caps melt the seeds will stay dry.  The structure is impressive, and the design takes into account global and cataclysmic disasters- saving the seeds to help reestablish food sources after an extinction-type disaster.

Svalbard Seed Vault- Wikipedia Photo

So I can get my arms around this- I’m a builder.  Make it tough and high and strong.  Build a fortress to save the seeds!  I get it- but this is the part that is truly amazing.

The seeds are kept at the optimal temperature for long term storage- zero degrees Fahrenheit.  Seems like they would eventually freeze and die- right?  How could they still be alive at zero degrees for more than a winter or two?  Well, not only will they live for a few winters, the seeds can be stored for hundreds and in some cases even thousands of years.  At zero degrees!  Forget the fancy building- that is truly amazing!

Seeds are the source of life.   They are extremely resilient- they have a distinct purpose.  They wait for the right conditions- warmth, soil, water and then do the miraculous.  A single seed is designed to yield much more than itself.  To grow and multiply- to do the extraordinary.  Is there a seed within you that is waiting to come to life?

Spring is here and the yearly winter slumber is coming to an end.   Take heart- your seed is still alive.  What do you have that you want to grow?

-Maybe it’s the education that you have always put off…

-Maybe it’s restoring a lost relationship…

-Maybe it’s a business or career goal…

-Maybe it’s volunteering or serving the less fortunate…

-Maybe it’s learning to play the piano…

-Maybe it’s the exercise program…

There is a seed in all of us that longs to burst through the warm ground of spring.  This is a great time to start something new, take a chance, and get out of the old routine.  Each year starts new and fresh- it’s God’s plan.

What can you start this year?  It’s not too late- your seed is alive!  Just awaken it from its slumber!

Don’t be a stealth reader!- click on comment and tell me what you think!