Yesterday I beat my cold into submission, by finally breaking down and going through the dreaded nose irrigation torture. Actually, it wasn’t so bad. And it did clear up the pressure in my head.
Anyway, I was celebrating that victory this morning and getting getting ready for what is generally the biggest workday of my week (three church services, Sunday School, coffee bar for 200, and eight classes full of Sunday School kids) when it hit. Killer stomach cramps. Inability to safely get more than 15 feet from the bathroom.
My elephant and I were all dressed and ready, but we couldn’t go.
Middle daughter to the rescue. This young woman is a hero. She had already pulled together a last-minute Sunday School lesson for her 4-year-olds after getting a call last night that her teaching partner couldn’t be there today. With no hesitation, my daughter sent me to bed, got instructions on what absolutely had to be taken care of this morning, and headed to church to manage everything. She’s been volunteering in my department for ten years, and knows the drill inside and out. In the meantime I’d texted all my Sunday morning volunteers (65 people, to be exact) to give them a heads-up and thank them for covering without me.
The ill and pessimistic side of me is sitting here and wondering what it says about my worth if I can just not show up and everything goes fine without me. But then I remember something a very wise person (who happened to also be my boss) said to me: “In this kind of work, the best measure of how valuable you are, of how well you do your job, is how smoothly everything runs when you’re absent.”
In other words, good leadership means sharing the work with others; allowing others to do what they do well so they can step up to meet challenges. It means thinking ahead, planning, preparing, so that a last-minute wrench tossed into the works doesn’t mean disaster.
And now I can lie back and rest up, knowing it’s okay not to be needed.