(A Brief Pause for Reflection)

I spent the past long weekend celebrating and then working on homework that I’d procrastinated far too long.  Oh and taking care of sick folk. And being sick  Of the 11 of us, 8 have now had this (thankfully short-lived) stomach bug and the other three are hoping to avoid it.  I don’t get nausea like most people do, and so I find myself paranoid that I’m coming down with it and “enjoying” psychosomatic stomach pangs that then turn out to be phantoms.  Until they weren’t.

But that’s not what this post is about.

This has been the longest break between classes so far since they began.  I do have class both the next two weekends in December, but I’m missing my EMBA classmates, one of whom is currently homeless from the recent tornado.  Despite the huge amount of additional work the program pours into my life, I’m enjoying it.  And I’m enjoying the people I’m enduring the labors with…people I’d probably never have met if I hadn’t done this.  And I find myself looking forward to class and seeing my classmates more each time, and missing them more in between where we’re all too busy to do much together.

The work has been hard, but enjoyable.  And in this “break” from class I have a ton of homework (some of which got put off too long) but I’m also reflecting on whether it’s worth it.  It’s hard to see positive change in one’s own life in the short-term, and it’s easy to miss even if you’re looking for it.  And so I can (because of this) find myself questioning sometimes whether the work is worth the effort.

And lo and behold, a gift!  This past week, a co-worker (one I’ve known for over half my life) sent an email to the entire leadership team.  This includes me, my boss, and most of the folks who directly report to me but who essentially, in the way we work things, are my peers at the office.  This is the team of folks that make the major decisions at Samaritan together.  And this guy, who has been known to push back hard at changes he sees as negative, was trying to make sure that he was vocal about positive changes too.  Which I applaud.  (Even just from an internal, political standpoint it’s easier to get heard on the negative if you’re not always negative…)

And in the email he pointed out several positive changes that we’ve been making as a team, many of which are a direct result of something I pushed at because of something I’ve learned in class.  What an encouragement!  It’s so good to know that what I’m doing is worth it…and it brings joy to see it not only be true, but be noticed.   That’s the kind of glimpse into the other side that people like me need to see, and it was a boost to me when I was feeling overwhelmed with some other stuff last week.  (When talking to my boss about a frustration he asked if I’d read that email.  And then he told me to read it again.  My boss is pretty smart, and knows me pretty well after 15 years of working together.)

But that’s not all.  Lest I be tempted to discount the value of my work in all of the positive changes, there near there end of the email is this nugget of direct encouragement:

Finally, I want to mention my appreciation for James. Returning to school is a big deal, both personally and professionally. I know that it is a major effort and sacrifice. And yet, it has already been so good for him. I recently commented to ______ that you can almost see James leveling up as an executive every week. Also, in both the newsletter efforts and at this last staff meeting, I’ve seen him being one of the loudest cheerleaders for the organization. From the vast quantities of positive shout-outs at the staff meeting to an enthusiastic presence in the newsletter process to working hard to develop and improve his skills, I’ve been blown away by what I’ve been seeing. And that definitely should be called out as well.

So here, as I wait for the next class to hit and my brain to hurt some more (and that will start with the homework on my list tonight!) I’m able to take a short breather, pause, reflect, and say with certainty, “It’s worth it.”  Very thankful for God sending me this encouragement, and for the brother who took the time to send it.

How about you?  Ever had a time when you were down and God sent something unexpected to encourage you?  Tell someone about it or share it in the comments!

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