In 1990 Warren Bennis wrote the following in his classic leadership book, Why Leaders Can’t Lead: The Unconscious Conspiracy Continues (Jossey-Bass Publishers). “In America today, it is harder than ever...
I once heard the story of a young preacher who was given his first assignment, a small country church. The young minister was simultaneously excited and terrified. All he had prepared for and wanted to do was now at his doorstep. As he prepared for his first sermon he was focused on making an impact on the parishioners. He wanted them to get something from his sermon and as a result, gain their respect and earn credibility. He prepared over several days and finally perfected what he thought was the right first sermon.
The young pastor got to the church early to greet the people when they arrived. As the hours for the service got closer, the young preacher become more and more discouraged: no one came to the service. Finally, right as the preacher was about to close the doors to the church, an old farmer dressed in his dungarees arrived. The young preacher greeted him and then sadly told him he was the only person who showed up for the service. As a result, the young preacher told the farmer that he did not want to ask him to sit through a service by himself. The old farmer looked at the preacher and then said, “Son, when I am feeding my cattle and only one cow shows up, I still feed that one cow.”
Motivated and inspired by the farmer, the young preacher assumed the pulpit and preached his sermon with increased enthusiasm and zeal. Finally, after he was finished he really wanted some feedback so he walked back to where the farmer was sitting Looking him in the eye, the young preacher asked the old farmer for his reactions to his very first sermon. The farmer again looked at the young man and said, “ Son, when I am feeding my cattle and only one cow shows up, I still feed that one cow. I just don’t give him the whole load.”
What lessons do you draw from this story?
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