True to the Corps: A Chaplain’s Thoughts on "Loneliness at the Top"
Week of April 29-May 4, 2013
Well it's finally here, Graduation Week at "The Del." This Friday the Class of 2013 will walk across Summerall Parade Field to officially join the “Long Gray Line” and the reins of leadership will be turned over to the Class of 2014. It’s a great feeling I know for our rising Senior class. They finally made it to the top. The problem with making it to the top of the heap is that once you’re there you find that there’s only room for one.
Some years ago my family visited Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. The guide led us through all the beautiful and winding subterranean passageways until we came to this huge cavern. Suddenly he turned off all the lights and said, "I'm the only one who knows how to get back to the entrance. If I left you here, you'd probably never find your way out.” In fact, -he added- anyone lost in this cave would no doubt become insane within a week from the oppressive loneliness. Everyone in the tour group was perfectly still. After about 30 seconds, someone in the party could endure it no longer and yelled out, "Turn on the lights! I'm going crazy now!"
Someone has said that there’s no spot on earth quite as lonely as the TOP SPOT. I was reminded of this the other day as I was talking to one of our rising cadet leaders who was already struggling with the frustrations of leadership. Relationships had changed. Friends had become subordinates. The FUN of leadership was overwhelmed by responsibly and as we all know responsibly can be NO FUN! This young cadet leader was starting to see his new role turn from opportunity and enjoyment into worry, concern and complaint. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there NOW!
Well, good news, you’re NOT alone. Even King David at one point cried out the depths of his own cave “I look for someone to come and help me but no one gives me a passing thought.” I guess every leader since then has felt the same. We look for friends to share the load, instead we find frustrations. Perhaps that’s why when God commissioned his first commander, Joshua, he declared to him “I will not fail you or abandon you.” Although he was no newcomer to battle, and certainly no youngster easily discouraged, God knew that in addition to the challenges of managing a military campaign Joshua would face contention, discouragement, and worst of all, loneliness. He knew that what his leader needed was a friend more reliable and a guide more dependable than the best friend or the finest staff.
So if you’re a new leader, whether in the Corps or just in your home, and your fun is turning into frustration don’t wait for the lights to go on, instead call on the one who has already been where you’re going. He knows your fears as well as your future and will walk through that cavern called leadership with you.
I’m Chaplain Joel Harris hoping you have a “Grace Day”