I remember wishing that I wouldn’t be picked to lead a team, group project, or committee simply because I didn’t want to pay the price for leadership and influence. As this poem implies, sometimes we want to refuse the honor of influence and let someone else lead. Unfortunately, we have done that too many times, and now there is a vacuum of influence that is being filled by people and forces that I don’t want influencing those I love. This poem doesn’t delve into the cost of choosing NOT to influence. It’s a high price. So, when offered the chance to influence, my friends, may we take up the honor, face the hardship and criticism, and lead our followers toward righteousness and integrity, toward truth and faithfulness, toward love and unity, and toward growth and maturity. Will we face aggression, injury, and wrong? Yes, the criticism will come. Leaders suffer. May we never leave a vacuum of influence for the world to fill because we decided influence was too difficult and too costly for us to possess. Vacuums get filled. We can’t afford to falter in our calling or give away what was ours to do.
I remember very vividly where I was on 9/11. I remember the unbelief at the scenes unfolding in my news feed, the gut-wrenching feeling that war was close at hand, and the effort to fully encapsulate the sacrifice first responders and later our military would make to save lives and preserve freedom. This poem is meant to honor those men and women who wake up every day with the opportunity and joy to serve their country and her people. I am amazed at them. I honor them today. We owe them our courage to do the same from the homeland: make choices that honor life and preserve freedom.