Now and then, in life, the unexpected reveals with almost perfect clarity what our life’s purpose will be.
As a young Special Forces Officer, I was assigned to counterinsurgency operations in Central America. This meant that I was attached to a local Battalion that regularly found itself in combat.
I knew early on that it would be essential for me to gain the trust of the officers (leaders) in charge at each level of the unit I was assigned so I dove in by acclimating myself to the language, customs, and culture. Each day I arose early and threw myself into serving anywhere I could. No job or task was too small or large. The way I saw it, I was there to serve.
Then one day, an outpost came under attack. I was asked to join the senior officers and as they were discussing the situation, I looked over at the map and quickly determined that by relocating their artillery only one mile down the road they would be able to provide much needed support to their troops.
The issue before me was not so much information before me; but instead, “how” I would communicate the information. At that very moment, I was quite certain my recommendation as a junior US military officer would be politely rejected. However, lives were on the line and I knew I must find a way.
Once in awhile we are faced with seminal moments filled with decisions and choices that will mold us into our future selves. This was one such time for me. So I spoke, in private, with a senior officer I had befriended having achieve some level of shared respect and trust over the weeks and months. He listened carefully and accepted my input relayed his thoughts over to the room’s senior-ranking officers.
That night, I learned something both about myself and others. What’s more important: being the center of attention or accomplishing the task before you? A willingness to accept and respect the leadership roles of others by diplomatically serving the larger mission and team can move mountains. In this case lives were saved, and trust was bridged.
Why is this story instructive? Over the years, this story has played out again and again; but perhaps with not as dramatic of an outcome. What I came to understand was that I am a connector: a connector of people and organizations.
As ABBA’s Executive Director, one day I am helping connect area pastors with the Mayor and the next participating in a meeting to address area homelessness. God prepared me through these experiences so that I could connect people with purpose.
Listen to the experiences God gives you. There is a pattern, there is a passion, there is a purpose woven into your life’s experiences.