This post came about today because early this morning as I was walking Twister, our exuberant Black Lab, I was somehow reminded by a magnificent oak of the fact I couldn’t see the trees for the forest on my first “bad” job on Capitol Hill.
Here’s the background: My first job on the Hill was as press secretary for a Maryland congressman. It was a great experience, as I learned so much from Don Baker, a superb Washington Post reporter, about journalism and the news process, and I absorbed volumes about the ways of the Hill.
But then I got over-confident, talked my way into a job working for an older Texas congressman as his chief of staff, and promptly realized I had screwed up royally.
It truly was not a good fit. He was set in his ways, which, after all, had gotten him re-elected multiple times during an era when old-guard conservative Democrats still ruled the Lone Star State.
Plus, his staff back in the district really ran the show and viewed me as an arrogant intruder. They were only half wrong in their judgement, as my parents were from the East Texas and, despite my Oklahoma birth, I loved the Piney Woods. So at least an intruder I wasn’t.
But I’d moved up too quickly and lacked some of the key management skills, personal maturity and political insight to be an effective chief of staff. That I lasted a little over a year in the job was a miracle.
So what was it this morning that reminded me of that unhappy experience? As you can see from the accompanying shot looking out the window of my home office into our back yard, Claudia and I live in an older neighborhood in Maryland with lots of trees.
“But I’d moved up too quickly and lacked some of the key management skills, personal maturity and political insight to be an effective chief of staff.”
Having spent most of my childhood in the Oklahoma City area where at least in that part of the Sooner state there weren’t a lot of trees (or anything else green for that matter), my times in those wonderful Piney Woods further south gave me an enduring love for trees, especially pines. To this day, those “whispering pines” soothe my soul.
Our neighborhood today is full of tall pines, huge old silver maples, sprawling oak trees, glorious cherry trees and just about every other kind of tree you can think of. Those trees are an immense blessing to me, one that I especially appreciate every day of my life nowadays.
But I didn’t see such blessings back when I was growing increasingly disenchanted and frustrated as a chief of staff. I was too focused on advancing myself rather than serving the congressman to the best of my ability and helping my colleagues on his Washington staff do their jobs better as well.
How to account for the difference in attitude? Youth and inexperience played a large part in it, of course, but here’s the most important difference: Years later when I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior (at 9:15 am on March 1, 1991), He became my Lord and serving Him my most fundamental purpose in life. I began seeing myself and the world quite differently.
“Who knows what might have happened had I stopped focusing solely on myself, developed more of an attitude of gratitude, and worked to serve others instead of old number one?”
That made me conscious of all sorts of blessings He put in my life to this day that my prior self-absorption prevented me from seeing.
And who knows what might have happened had I stopped focusing solely on myself, developed more of an attitude of gratitude, and worked to serve others instead of old number one?
As I reflect on these things today, one thing is certain: How different things might have been then and now had I learned that lesson then about counting your blessings where you are instead of being frustrated with not being where you think you ought to be.
So, if you aren’t happy in your job on the HIll today, look around, count your blessings and get out of yourself. It could be the start of a whole new way of living.
And if you’d like to sit down and talk further about these things, check out my “Office Hours” in the sidebar to the right. Coffee is on me. Everything is off the record. And I’d love to share with you how Jesus changes everything.