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How The Emergency Room Made Me A Better Leader


It was a night like most nights. Everything was routine. After arriving home for work, I ate dinner, watched one of my favorite TV shows, and even managed to get to bed at a decent hour. Then came the call at 2:00am. I answered the phone and it was one of my friends. He was having significant chest pains and struggling to breathe. I immediately got dressed, drove to his house, and took him to the emergency room. 4 hours later he was diagnosed, given medicine to help with the problem, released from the ER, and back at his house resting. Thankfully, his health issue wasn’t too major and in about a week he was feeling back to normal.

While we were in the emergency waiting room, I couldn’t help but observe the people around me. To my right, there was a young girl in her early 20s talking on the phone to a friend in another state. Apparently she had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend, now was homeless, and battling sickness. To my left, there was a distraught young mom not knowing how to stop her baby from crying due to a high fever. All around me was pain, struggle, and need. Most of these people needed physical healing, but for many there was also a desire for something more, companionship.

As I sat in the waiting room, I realized that most of the people were by themselves. What’s worse than being alone is going through difficult circumstances by yourself.

In that moment, I was reminded that there are many people in this world who have significant struggles and no one to help them through it. Too many times I can retreat into the ivory tower called my house and isolate myself from the world. I hear on the news about people who are hurting, think in mind “I’m glad that is not me,” and then quickly change the channel.

That night in ER, I gained perspective.

I believe that leaders are difference-makers. They strive to help those around them. They don’t merely talk about serving others, they actually do it. Their message is not merely with their mouth, but by their hands and feet.

So what does this mean for all of us? Here are a few thoughts:


This is one of the areas that I struggle with the most. In order to grown in compassion, we have to see the people that we interact with on a daily basis in a new light. They are people with souls. They have hurts and pain and struggle. We can’t get so caught up in our schedule and agenda that we miss opportunities throughout the day to care for others. This might simply be saying “Hello” or taking 5 minutes to have conversation with someone at the store. Opportunities to serve are all around us, we just have to slow down and notice them. What opportunities will you see today? (I wrote more about how leadership and compassion here.)


There are many problems people have that we can’t solve. But we can always be there for them. We can be a shoulder to cry on and an ear that listens. Our presence is powerful and impacts people more than we will ever know. Who in your life needs your presence today? (I talk more about the power of presence here.)

Get Out

Opportunities rarely knock on our front door. We have to leave the safety of our home, get out of our comfort zone, and go to where the needs are. This might be volunteering at a homeless shelter, getting involved in our local church, or just simply finding avenues to interact with people you normally wouldn’t on a regular basis. What needs does your community have that you could help fill?

Focus on One

One person can’t solve world hunger, find shelter for every homeless person, or care for every orphan. But you can do that for one person. Pastor and author, Andy Stanley, says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” Every life matters. If every person took the time to just help a few people in their lifetime, can you imagine the impact that would have? What one person can you help today?

Are you in touch with the needs of those around you? Your family, friends, community? If not, then your leadership lacks substance and is hollow. True leaders serve.

What is one thing you can do today to serve your sphere of influence?

Tweetable Lesson: Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone




About the Author:

I have a passion to equip or prepare young leaders for maximum impact in their spheres of influence. Former Pine Cove camp director and currently a general manager for Hawaiian Falls. I am originally from South Louisiana but now live in East Texas with my beautiful wife, Robyn.

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