BEING THE LEAD DOG

In the Arctic areas, dog sleds have been traditionally in use for transportation, hauling supplies in areas inaccessible by other methods and in the explorations of the Arctics. Sled dog teams delivered mail to rural communities in Alaska and northern Canada and even today are being used by some rural communities, especially in areas of Alaska and Canada and throughout Greenland. They are also used for recreational purposes and racing events, such as the Iditarod Trail and the Yukon Quest.

The most critical part of the team, lead dogs set the pace and keep the other dogs on the trail. They are the dogs that respond to the musher’s commands of “gee” (right turn) and “haw” (left turn). Lead dogs must be alert and intelligent so they can find and follow the trail when it is covered over with snow. They do so through smell, sensing where other teams have passed, and feel, by feeling with their feet the packed trail beneath the loose snow covering. They also keep the other dogs in the team moving by pulling the gangline taut. Some dogs make better leaders in certain weather conditions but not others.

Being a leader rests not just on the ability to lead, but also on how well you can lead, especially in times of crises. Leader is one who leads by example and has the boldness to tell others, follow me. A leader by profession is different and distinct from one who is by instinct and by nature. The former does it for a season, for a time period, at certain places, because he/she has been given or placed in a position and for a compensation. The latter is a leader, wherever, whenever, always, irrespective of whether they are given or placed in a position and granted a wage or reward. Such a person will not abandon ship nor throw in the towel, but will rather forfeit their own benefits and prioritize the interest of the whole team. These are gems, stars that shine clear and bright, rare indeed is their kind!

Leaders, who lead just because they are one, don’t look for position nor vie for it, but do what they have to do just because of who they are. They lead on and by the authority of their nature or character, rather than by the power and authority of a position, or by rules and regulations or even a following. They are far removed from petty power struggles and fighting for their rights as they are secure in who they basically are and what they are destined to do. Such leadership, though normally intrinsic and inborn, can of course be learnt and acquired, if the basic principle involved here is understood. In such a kind of leading and mentoring, being (character, nature) supersedes demanding, talking, instructing, commanding or even doing. Here the power of leadership exists in the person and in who they are rather than what they do, by virtue of an endless life than of action. This is the secret behind the seeming reason for their security in the face of adversity or opposition or even rejection.

A leader of influence needs to understand the power of non-verbal impartation over verbal communication. A simple short movie done some years ago for a competition portrayed the progress of a yawn around a group of people. One person yawning set a series of yawns that traveled quite a distance around the area. Such is the power of example and existence! Impartation is a powerful aspect of leadership that is often neglected in favor of verbal use or abuse. If you want people to follow you even when you suggest the most outrageous risks and undertakings, learn to concentrate on growing and improving who you are, rather than what you do. Do not use camouflage or subterfuge to mask your inadequacies, but learn to be transparent and forthcoming. I often listen to Indra Nooyi, not because of her position, but more because I can see that what she says is who she is. She is not mouthing fancy words or clichés because she has to, but because she has practiced what she is articulating.


A leader cannot lead his/her people beyond who he/she is or what he can do and how far he has grown.  That’s why for your leadership to be sustainable or sustained, put efforts into improving who you are through some study or training and being mentored. Actually, a leader who is not being led cannot lead others, for he is not accountable, learning or improving. A true leader will seek counsel and advice to grow, consistently expand his/her horizons, continuously develop lateral skills and constantly supplement his/her own capabilities. Such person will always be a student so as to function effectively as teacher and leader. Life with or under such a person will be a roller-coaster of adventure as they are never static and set in their ways, but dynamic and ever self-actualizing in every instance.

I love that the Bible talks about Jesus, the greatest leader who led by example, as someone who ‘began to do and teach’. Any follower of this greatest teacher and rabbi of all times who led by example and see the impact as well as reach that He has had for and on generations, will not hesitate to emulate it.

Everything you say or do as a leader will be colored and coded by who you are. The context of your words will be the content of your life and the consequence of your being, rather than the cosmetic or costume of your appearance. Even though these latter do play a part in presentation, the completeness of your self will unconsciously compliment and complement as well as complete the core of your communication and determine as well as decide the success of it. If your being doesn’t back up your doing or your saying, people will accept you or your commands because they have to and not because they want to! By virtue of their position under you, they will honor you, but once out from under it, will despise or demean you. Such leadership doesn’t last or impact with dignity, but will have to be maintained through deceit, coercion and compulsion rather thriving on willing eager submission. Leadership then becomes a burden and a duty rather than an endless delight and a compelling mission.

Be a leader before demanding or commanding as a leader!

* Photo by James Padolsey on Unsplash and Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

*Information on dogsleds from https://iditarodoutsider.wordpress.com/tag/sled-dog-positions/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sled_dog

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MANAGING THE OVERFLOW

There was a season in our life when my husband and I faced an unusual issue of extra cash in hand every month. This was over and above our monthly expenditures and was not a normal occurrence in our life. Mostly, we would have just enough for our needs or even less than what was needed for our daily upkeep. We were faced with a serious dilemma: what to do with this excess? I was in a quandary since I was totally in charge of housekeeping and managing the family. My husband trusted me to take care of things at home fully, while he took care to earn and provide for us.

Lack was not new to me and I had become an expert in managing our family in times of need and want. Poverty was a familiar ground to me, prosperity was not! I was now in a new uncharted territory and needed guidance. As usual I turned to the Scriptures and found my answer there. What I found was THE PRINCIPLE OF JOSEPH!

In the Bible we see Joseph, a dreamer, becoming an interpreter of dreams to Pharoah, the sovereign of Eygpt. The Pharaoh has a dream of seven healthy cows being eaten up by seven lean cows and another dream of seven healthy ears of grain being swallowed up by seven weak ears of grain. With heavenly revelation and insight, Joseph diagnoses as the dreams together issuing a warning of things to come: there would seven years of extreme plenty followed by seven years of utter famine.
Joseph, not only interpreted the dream, but with the wisdom of God, born of training and experience, advised the King on the course of action to take in that season. His counsel, SAVE UP THE EXCESS DURING YEARS OF PLENTY TO TIDE OVER THE LACK IN THE YEARS OF NEED!

Thrilled with the simplicity of the answer to my question. I followed that principle and put aside the excess in a post office saving account. Just a few months later, a crisis situation rose in our family wherein we needed to have ready cash in our hand for expenses. What I had put aside helped us tide over in this very demanding time and gave us the freedom to handle it without the pressure of running around for resources!

Most often, when we are given a bonus, a raise or are fortunate to have surplus in our hands, we tend to spend it on what we have already desired to have. Surfing online shopping sites or window shopping or scanning magazines for deals has become a favorite pastime and entertainment for us. In doing so, we automatically build up a repertoire of wants and desires which we try to fulfil in the seasons we have excess or surplus. Nothing wrong in doing so when you have a planned budget to catch deals during, say a festival season; but doing it as an obsessive impulse is quite detrimental to our financial well being.
When I worked in a government office, I used to admire the thrift and saving acumen of a particular community/ people group in our nation. Any increase in salary or other benefits, they would immediately start an RD or participate in saving chit etc. They confined their needs and wants to a selected money slab and did not try to increase their lifestyle in any way, very content to be in that socioeconomic level. So when times of need came, they were well prepared in advance for that need. It was not that they did not live well, but it is that they have an inherent business and financial knowhow that is not known to many.

Even though I often faltered and did not follow the Joseph Principle, yet this lesson became a fundamental portion of my life and I have it taught it to others too. Life has come a full circle for me and now and I am again in a season of putting this into practice. Now I am equipped with wisdom to make the right decisions.

The way we handle what life throws at us is a true measure of our wisdom, maturity and understanding. We live in very fluid and unstable times and often our daily existence is standing on thin base of life, an ever-changing business environment and very uncertain financial condition. Gone are the days when a person could work at one job in one place in one organization for thrifty forty years before retiring with a sizable pension as well as savings such as PF, gratuity etc. In such perilous times, we cannot afford to build our lives, both family and individual on sinking sands of consumerism and materialism. We need to be careful managers, shrewd investors and wise planners.A note in passing: Joseph, after his wise counsel and exhibition of sharp business strategy, was appointed in charge of the very plan he mooted and became second only to Pharoah. In spite of being a foreigner and a slave in the land, Joseph was appointed administrator over the whole nation, having complete power and authority over everything. Nothing could be done without hai permission and he gained it all by the nobility of his mind. He became a wealthy man and led Eygpt to hold perfect sway even in the most dire times and made the country of his adoption to be head over all the nations around. How we handle what life throws at us is a true measure of our wisdom, maturity and understanding.
Let’s learn from ancient wisdom. Learn the art of managing a flood. Learn to handle the overflow. Live by the Principle of Joseph. Let your own wisdom pave your own path of success and honor!

*Photos courtesy unsplash.com

COME YE APART

Recently my family and I have been having a short season of total rest – son had annual factory shutdown-cum-leave time, daughter and son-in-law vacation time with us, other son successfully completed university admission procedures, hubby retired from work and I had my heart and hands full with all of these as a bouquet of satisfaction!

An unprecedented time of total tuning down caused me to truly understand how totally refreshing rest is!

Pulling back to rest, stepping away from schedule, relaxing from intensive work, moving away to new location, spending quality time together, intentional laying aside of activity and cessation from busyness are sure keys to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual renewal. Such overhauling of all systems is mandatory necessity for holistic life and living today. It is not an optional luxury in these stressful times that we live in, but a real-time urgent necessity and need. It is more commonsensical and wise to spend for and on a timeout, rather than on costly medical procedures and treatment. Prevention is surely always better than cure, and besides, this one has literally no side effects to it!

Ironically, many form and organize even a vacation into a pressurised block of time, packing it chock-full of various events and activities. It is distressing to see such folks return from a holiday more tense than ever before. Imagine making even a vacation into a strenous workout!

Most often than not, what is needed is just simple rest and good nutritional intake rather than a costly outing that strains the budget, adding to the load. Nothing is so good as a long, alarm-free sleep, bolstered with and by a lack of deadlines. Just letting go of an agenda will work wonders for many a one who is simply used to running a constant mechanical life. Even the pendulum of a clock is brought to rest to release tension and restore equilibrium. A combination of good food, good sleep and good solitude is often a surefire and simple remedy for stress!

Coming apart to a desert or desolate place truly helps in realigning priorities, weighing pros and cons of activity, weeding out the irrelevant and focusing on only needed realities. Without an intentional time of solitude and reflection, we would end up expending our energy, scattering our attention and generally getting distracted from realisitic ground necessities. That’s why attending a funeral often helps in coming to terms with real life, for it pulls us up and out of a benumbed stupor of activity and frenzied running after many things. It is pressing the pause button on our mad routine to assess the fragility and frailty of human existence. It helps take stock of and accept our humanness.

A sabbath rest and sabbatical time is the need of the hour for sustainable living and conservation of strength. Without renewal and rest we would soon, without effort, unconsciously slide into robotic existential lifestyle. We would probably soon reach an early grave.

Let’s wake up to the need for some, plain, good, old-fashioned rest. Let’s come apart before we become jaded and come apart!

*Photo courtesy: https://unsplash.com/photos/dV1ShxBfX5s

IT’S SUMMER TIME

 Summer vacation was special for us as kids. 
 
Ten days with maternal grandparents. They lived in a city. Exhibition, movies and shopping occupied us.
 
Ten days were spent with paternal grandparents. They lived in a small rural town.  Hunting, fishing and picnicking were the draw.
 
My kids usually spent part of their summer holidays with my parents.
 
My paternal grandparents lived within a mission hospital compound. Its center was a church. I loved its quaint quietness and mystical sanctity.

I took my kids there for a visit. I showed them my roots and theirs.

The following year my dad died.
*Friday Fictioneers is talented group of enthusiasts penning down a story, a poem, a prose, etc., expressing their heart about a photo prompt © Roger Bultot

WOMAN ARISE

Arise, O Woman, shake off the dust,
Why do you sit with your head in your hands,?
Don’t you know you can’t allow your life to rust,
There is still work to be done before you rest!

Arise, O Woman, shake off your gloom,
Why do you rock and cry as if it is the day of doom!
Don’t you realize life is still full of newness and bloom,
There is much to be done so don’t be overcome!

Arise, O Woman, shake off the cobwebs and frost,
What do you mean when you say all is lost!
Don’t you catch that this just a wakeup post,
There is still much for you to apprehend and accost!

Arise, O Woman, don’t give up now,
Yes the battle is strong and the sharp winds do blow!
Don’t let go of what is yours and in self-pity wallow,
Be strong, our God is mighty and He won’t let you go!

Sabina Tagore Immanuel
*Photo courtesy: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcSoZARIpBpW2FzfoLOFEEPbEP3UXVDNcURxrSuQN-zJMBa0KK81

HITHERTO

Hitherto has the Lord helped us,
The ever present reminder in my troubles,
A constant refrain that rings in my ear,
A stable anchor amidst the raging waves
That rock my boat with many a tear.

Hitherto has the Lord been our guide,
Helping us traverse the rocky divide,
A restful shade in a barren hillside,
A wellspring of water in a desert site,
He’s the cool cloud under which I stride.

Hitherto has the Lord led us through a spar,
Safe and secure inspite of many a scar,
A shield in battle when the enemy rages from near or far,
A tower of defense when we tire in despair,
He is the banner under which I fight life’s war.

Hitherto has Lord been our beacon of might,
Shining on our path as lamp and light,
A sun by day and a moon by night,
A beam of rare hope that keeps me alive,
He is the star under which I live with true insight.

Ebenezer God is still on the throne,
Everything is well on this earth we call home,
None can stop all that He has decided or planned,
Nor prevent anything when He holds command,
Time is under the control and rule of His hand.

SABINA TAGORE IMMANUEL
*Thanks to Matteo Vistocco for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/CYN6x1FyPWs

WHEN LIFE SEEMS UNFAIR – the farsightedness of God and the nearsightedness of man

As I read the story of the birth of Jesus and of John the Baptist in Matthew chapter 2 and Luke chapter 2 in the Bible, I am struck by one point, something common in both. Did both sets of parents ever wonder why their lot in life was hard, even though they were righteous people? I wonder if Zechariah’s family and Joseph’s family ever questioned why their life was the way it was – one couple had to be childless for so many years and other couple had to be so poor that they could afford only the minimal necessities of life?

God had a plan for both couples and had chosen them to carry out His plan, even though they were unaware of it! Nothing happens without a purpose for those who love Him and nothing is beyond His sovereignty and purview for them. When one is committed to Him, one can be sure that nothing happens, the best or the worst, by chance or without purpose in one’s life.

John the Baptist had to be born before Jesus and until that time Zechariah and Elizabeth had to be barren even though they were righteous and of right standing before God. They wouldn’t have understood the why of it until the right time. I wonder how many times they would have been asked why has God punished you or not answered your prayer. I wonder how many times they themselves would have asked why have we not been blessed and if they doubted the efficacy of their being righteous.
Life was unfair to them and God would seem to be unseeing. Yet they didn’t lose their faith in God nor trade in their righteousness for haphazard living. They held their course and in due time understood the honor for which they had been singled out – to be the parents of a unique child born in urgent times of history and transition.

The same could be said of Joseph and Mary, for they bore the burden of poverty and need. They seemed to be content with their lot and Jesus was born to them as the lowly son of a carpenter. He couldn’t have been born any other way except poor and be loaded with maximum number of disadvantages. It was only then could He identify Himself with all things become so for all men. If His birth and social strata in life would have been otherwise, He would have been at a disadvantage. Since He had this call to be a sacrifice for many, His parents also had to pay the price for it even when they didn’t know it or understand they were God’s choice to be the parents of the Son of God! It is however clear that they did not crib about it nor cease from following God and being righteous.

We often don’t understand or accept our lot in life, because we don’t see our lives in the context of God’s plan for all of humanity. We don’t comprehend the background of the stage in which the drama of our life is being played out. We don’t see the arena in which we live our lives nor do we realize the chain of things in which our lives play their part.

So, we either blame God or become lackadaisical about following Him. We constantly strive to better our lot without understanding His purposes for us in the context of His plans for the whole world. We are worried only about us and our plans and are consumed about upward mobility in society.

We lack the desire to apprehend and understand the big picture. We refuse to acknowledge that we are part of a bigger plan and the importance of the role we play in it as well as our contribution in it. By and large, we live and want to live selfish, individual lives that’s fashioned by minimalistic goals mostly concert tested and concerned about what we eat, what we dress, what we buy, where we live etc. We don’t acknowledge God in our lives and His plans for the world as a whole.

Even when we belong to Him we are more concerned with how to live in the kingdom of this world rather than living with the acceptance that His Kingdom, whose citizens we are, is already here. We shut our eyes and mind to the fact that this world is passing away while eternity is at our doorstep. We are like chickens rooting the soil for juicy worms rather than eagles that lifts its eyes to the heights, unaware the storm is on us.

Question is do I/you have the correct apprehension and clarity of sight. Are we short-sighted and nearsighted or long-sighted and farsighted? Are we being hampered and tempered by faulty and erroneous nearsightedness or enhanced and enlarged by farsightedness?
Whether we like it or not, assess it or not, our lives are the creation of God and our beings exist within the context of His purposes. Things happen to us as per and according to His will and shutting our eyes to it will only cause us to be like the ostrich in the desert that sticks its head in the sands hoping things will go away or change.

On the other hand, if we just accept and acknowledge God and His purposes, we will see clearly to understand that all things work together for our good within the progress of His plans and purposes on earth. We will not be tripped up in our faith nor lose our righteousness, for we will live with foresight. Indeed we will have the right combination to live as people of this era and as people with eternal destinies, as people who possess perfect 20/20 vision!

*Thanks to Elena Taranenko for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/hCUA4xtxVTA