Leadership is an action, not a position.

Posted August 22, 2012 by Andrew
Categories: Uncategorized

When I was in college, I served on the Student Senate one year. The Student Senate was selected by housing units, and each housing unit was represented. There were seven dorms, eight Greek houses, and a few small theme houses. Due to overflow in Greek housing being placed in other living units, we ended up with a Student Senate that had a majority of Greek students. (Since the majority of the student body was Greek, that was still fairly representative.) As a result, the Student Senate was largely a rubber-stamping group that gave the required approval for the Greek houses to have wet functions and parties outside their own houses. I represented one of the dorms.

Little else was done aside from filtering campus functions so the administration would not have to, and I honestly cannot remember a single worthwhile accomplishment of the Student Senate. Largely this is because the administration and trustees of the college did an excellent job. (While a lot of people have complaints about where they went to school, I have absolutely none, aside from maybe wishing they had a grad school.) They foresaw and addressed problems before they would come to the student government. The student body really had no significant complaints. On one hand, it made the job easy. On the other hand, it made the meetings feel unimportant, and the shirts seemed like a huge joke.

You see, we got t-shirts for being in the student government. The front said “Student Senate”. The back said “Leadership is an action, not a position.” While that might have been a joke to the Student Senate at my college and the shirt may have sat largely unworn in a drawer in my dresser, the statement on the back has been something that has stuck with me.

I pretty much blew it off as a joke for a number of years, until I was elected captain of the 33rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. At that point, I suddenly saw it differently. I was placed in a position, but that position required more than just sitting in a seat for meetings. I wasn’t just part of making decisions anymore. I was putting those decisions into action. My job was to help the company find a direction and make sure they got there. My job was to make sure that we didn’t get caught up in minute details or unimportant issues. My job was to get information and quickly act on it in the field and to make sure everyone else got the pertinent information and guide them through weighing it at meetings. How I conducted my leadership determined whether or not the company would create a schedule of events, work out transportation, form a unit in the field, etc, instead of falling apart in a squabble about who was going to cook or what we were going to eat, as I have seen happen to many organizations with positions and no leadership.

My Student Senate shirt is now my favorite t-shirt. I wear it to almost every meeting for the Western Federal Blues (as well as events when they ask me to command) as a reminder to myself that my position means nothing if my actions do not make anything of it. If I ever wear it out, I’m going to try to get a new one made.

Now I sit on the Session at my church. I approach every Session meeting with that motto: Leadership is an action, not a position. My role is to both prayerfully consider what is before the Session and the church, but my role is also to act in the best interest of the church. Right now, that means acting to make changes, even though change is unpopular, especially in the Presbyterian Church. Some changes are easier, like accommodating a staff office move to create a working environment that will better enable a staff member to do their job. Some changes are harder, like finding a way to significantly cut costs and/or increase revenue over a short amount of time. All of these changes are things that need to preserve and improve the operating of our congregation while keeping the larger mission of the Church foremost in what we do. Leadership means making changes when the status quo is unacceptable and not simply using a position to talk about rubber-stamping or denying things in order to keep people comfortable by doing the same thing in the same way. There are changes in store for First Presbyterian Church in Ashland, KY, and if we keep our eyes, minds, and hearts on the task of continuing God’s mission here on earth, I see great things in our congregation’s future.

Enjoyment

Posted May 10, 2012 by Andrew
Categories: Growing Up, Observations

I want to do something enjoyable tonight, like sleep. … … … Wow. My parents were right. My idea of enjoyable has changed.

I remember a time when “enjoyable” was not even a word that I would use. Something was either fun or not fun. Unfun? Fun things included staying up, drinking Mt. Dew, and playing games all night. Fun was eating a pizza, a whole pizza, just because I could. Fun was breaking out a new video game and the cheat codes. (Learning how to win on your own was for suckers. Beat it fast, then challenge yourself!) Fun was playing Home Alone at double speed on the VCR so that everybody sounded like they were chipmunks. (We called it Chipmunk Mode.) Back then, if it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t enjoyable.

Now, I not only appreciate enjoyment, but I also see the difference between it and fun. I still do fun things. Reenacting is a heck of a lot of fun. Watching funny movies is fun! Yes, video games are still fun… in moderation. As far as enjoyment is concerned, one of my favorite forms is in relaxation. Try going to a baseball game and not being relaxed. (That doesn’t work if you’re a Red Sox or Yankees fan. Sorry!) Sitting around and reading. Having dinner or a drink with friends. Getting a good lie-down, or even just closing my eyes for a little while. (Okay, that usually results in sleep, but sometimes it doesn’t!) Then there’s sleep itself, whether it’s a nap or getting to bed early. I appreciate it and find it greatly enjoyable, as well as the feeling I get afterwards when I’m rested.

So my plans for tonight? I’m going to get a good night’s sleep and wake up bright and early in the morning to get back to something not-so-enjoyable. Work. Ah, being a grown-up!

Elizabethtown

Posted April 4, 2012 by Andrew
Categories: Family, Growing Up, travel, TV/Movies

When I was living in Louisville, Kirsten Dunst and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) were filming a movie called Elizabethtown on location in Elizabethtown, KY. A couple of years ago, I finally got [around] to watch[ing] the movie. It was a cute but very dark romantic comedy. The film centers around a suicidally depressed New Yorker, whose family hails from central Kentucky. He learns that a family member dies and he must go back to the Commonwealth for the funeral. Through the course of the film, Legolas meets and begins a relationship with a flight attendant, Kirsten Dunst, who challenges him to both grieve and find himself. The line from the movie that I always remember is “If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else,” meaning no matter what circumstances under which it happens, things are going to happen. In this case, it meant the family would gather together again. In all, it wasn’t a terribly great movie, but it wasn’t bad either.

On Monday, I was returning home from the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Shiloh and visiting Fort Donelson. My journey took me on the freeway along the outskirts of Elizabethtown, KY, and I considered stopping. It was about 2 in the afternoon, and I knew a stop would give me a delay of about 3 hours. You see, my grandmother lives in E-town. She’s in an assisted living facility there. I decided to press on to try to get home early, and I’d plan a longer visit later this month. As I made my decision, that line popped into my head. If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else. I made it home relatively early and finished unpacking my truck before the basketball game started. (WAY TO GO CATS!)

I found out yesterday at lunch that my grandmother had fallen on Friday and was taken to the hospital. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but they took her as a precaution. She was recovering very well, but mentally, she was in an age 10 or more years ago. She was talking about seeing long-dead family over the past few days and the coming days. She would never have recognized me if I had stopped to see her. As much as I would have liked to spend time with her, I felt a little less bad about not stopping.

Late last night, we got a call from my mother’s aunt. My grandmother had just passed away. Now I’m trying to find out how much work can be put off for another week and preparing to travel back to Elizabethtown tomorrow or Friday. I don’t know the funeral details yet, but it will likely be Friday morning or Saturday. Once again, that line is going through my mind: If it wasn’t this, it’d be something else.

Stopping wouldn’t have made a difference that she’d know, and to be completely honest, stopping wouldn’t have made much of a difference to me. Seeing her one last time in her mental state, would not have left me with a better memory of her life and the time we got to spend together.

I used to spend a week visiting when I was younger. My parents would meet my grandparents at either King Fish in Louisville or Frisch’s in Winchester, KY, and leave one of us with them and take the other two back home. For three weeks, my grandparents had one or another of us. We used to take walks on the trail to Freeman Lake. She always got after me whenever I ran ahead and got out of view, and I’d have to come back to her. We golfed at Fort Knox. Whenever we’d go on base, we’d stop at the PX, and I’d get Pringles. We stopped by the Coca-Cola bottling plant in E-town. We never went on the tour. We would just go in to look at the koi pond and get free drinks from the fountain. Nearly every time I was there, it was Shark Week. I don’t know if my parent’s planned it that way or not, but I’d watch all the shows on Discovery Channel in the evenings. My grandmother never understood why I’d want to watch shows about shark attacks every night for several hours, but she’d sit down in her chair and watch them with me.

When I was in college, I would call my grandmother from time to time. When she asked who was calling, I’d always announce, “It’s your favorite grandson!” She actually seemed to enjoy hearing me declare that. Those are the memories that I will keep with me of my grandmother.

Now, I find myself getting ready to go back to Elizabethtown a few weeks before I had initially planned to see my grandmother again. This time, it will be for one last time. The troubles my grandmother has had for the last seven or eight years are finally over. I’ll again make the journey to where my grandfather was laid to rest twelve years ago. I know that they’re together again. If it hadn’t been this, it’d be something else. Family together again.

Love Letters

Posted February 27, 2012 by Andrew
Categories: Acting

Molly Maynard knows how to lay down the guilt, and I’m glad she does. I’ve told people for a couple of years that the best show I’ve seen in this area was Tick. Tick… Boom! from Company of Dreams. I think it got topped this weekend.

Arts Boyd County produced Love Letters as a fund raiser for this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park. It’s a very simple, two-person show, where those two people sit and read the letters they wrote to each other over the course of their lives. The letters were funny and charming, dark and sad, and moving in every way. They performed this past weekend, and I got to see the final show on Sunday. It was a very simple set, consisting of two writing desks, and it was performed to a very intimate audience, numbering twelve. That was the only thing that I didn’t like: the audience size. While it was nice to be a part of such a small group, the show was deserving of selling out the theater all three nights it ran.

It’s now confession time. I had no intentions of seeing this show. I knew the synopsis: Two people sitting and reading love letters to each other. It did not sound at all interesting to me. I completely judged the book by its lovey-dovey, marshmallowy cover. Instead of seeing the show, I was just going to make a donation to ABC. I spent Friday night hanging out with my bestie. Saturday, I went to a concert in Ironton. While the performers were quite talented, most of the musical selection didn’t interest me. I planned to spend Sunday afternoon cleaning my guns and finishing laundry (or in the alternative, going to work, which I ended up doing after the show). Fortunately, I went to IHOP after the concert, where I bumped into Molly (the producer), the director, and a bunch of people who had just gone to the show. Molly guilted me into going, and I’m incredibly thankful for that, even if she did lie about it! Even though you don’t read this blog, thanks, Molly!

After the show ended, I went upstairs to give Molly a piece of my mind about lying to me the night before. After I had done that, she said the two actors would be up shortly. I stayed and talked to the other people that I knew there. After awhile, the actors came up and started mingling with the few of us that had come. The woman, Lynette, came up to me and addressed me as her Winnie-the-Pooh buddy. It was then that I remembered that she had sat behind me at a show at the Paramount in the fall. We had talked for about 25 or 30 minutes before the show started. She had recognized me from the shows I had done, and we just started talking shop.

At the end of the day, I got to see an excellent show and spend time with friends and people I barely know. I’m very grateful that Molly has a talent with guilt.

What was I saying?

Posted February 27, 2012 by Andrew
Categories: Church, Observations, Relationships, Sports, TV/Movies

Why is it that I can’t think of any of the wonderful topics to write about that popped into my head last week? You see, I have this problem. I used to think it was “ADD” (short attention span – thus forgetfulness). Now, I’ve come to realize that it’s called “being human”.

I’m pretty sure I had no intention of writing about the Academy Awards, since I didn’t watch them. Based on the comments I’ve seen on facebook, Angelina Jolie needs to eat something, Jennifer Lopez needs to cover up a little bit better, and the Academy gave the middle finger to sound technicians everywhere by giving best picture to a silent movie.

I know I feel that everyone should go to Rev. Bugg’s Sunday School class about why we worship the way we do, but I don’t think the people who read this blog are the ones who need to be concerned with it.

Jeremy Lin is still playing basketball, and ESPN realized the “chink” is not just part of a common sports analogy but also a highly offensive racial slur.

I helped a friend paint her bathroom, put up a mirror, and remove an old sink cabinet. In the process, the mirror fell from the wall and a water pipe broke. I was not responsible for either, although I did act like the Dutch boy for about five minutes.

I’ve dated as many woman in the past five months as I had in the previous five years. Hopefully, that’s a trend that will balance out soon.

I watched Love Letters at ACTC on Sunday. Yeah. That one will do. Expect a post on Love Letters sometime today!

Taxes and Shiloh

Posted February 17, 2012 by Andrew
Categories: Reenacting

I would just like to take this opportunity to say that my taxes are done. This is the earliest I’ve ever had them prepared! I can now get on with my life without having to worry about them in April, so there’s one less thing to stress about!

Now I just have to get a bunch of work done before deadlines and find NCOs for Shiloh at the end of March.

Right. I haven’t said anything about Shiloh, which is still a month and a half away, probably the reason I haven’t said anything about it. I went to a meeting last weekend, and while I was there, I was given command of a company for the event. My first thought was that I would have to brush up on both my company and battalion level drill instead of just company level. Then it hit me when I got home that I have to find sergeants and corporals for the event, too. It turns out that I was the only person who registered for the company who had offered to be a sergeant, and there was one other who offered to be a corporal, although he now believes he may have National Guard training that weekend. I have a very short list of people that I trust to be 1st Sgt, and so far, two of them have told me they can’t. I’m now down to my last couple of choices and fully expecting both to say that they are committed to other units for the event. On the bright side, I get to command a company for the 150th anniversary of the battle of Shiloh (or Pittsburg Landing if you prefer). It’s going to be great to not have taxes looming over my head while I’m there!

2012 Grammys

Posted February 13, 2012 by Andrew
Categories: Music, News, People, TV/Movies

I think the correct way to spell it is “Grammys” although it could be “Grammies.” For some reason, “Grammies” sounds like a snack food for British kids.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about how to spell Grammys. I’m here to talk about the ceremony: the one I slept through. This was completely unintentional. I was exhausted and lied down for a nap around 4 or 4:30 and slept, with only one interruption, until 4 in the morning, when I went back to sleep for another couple of hours. I noticed a tweet during the half hour that I was awake that was something about Chris Brown dancing with bats. That’s when I first realized that I missed the Grammys.

So apparently, Chris Brown was performing at the Grammys. This surprised me, because I could have sworn that he was nearly universally disliked and still under probation. Apparently, that’s not the case, at least one the disliked portion. Here’s the mix in the form of celebrity Twitter feeds.  According to less-than-irrefutable sources, Rihanna and Chris Brown are even back together. Some writers didn’t feel the need to point why that the choice to have Brown perform is controversial. Others only referenced it as a way to say how much of a recovery his career has made. An article on the show celebrating the life of Whitney Houston didn’t bother to mention the irony of Brown performing.

A writer for Philadelphia Magazine got it. The first thing that clued me in on this Grammy performance, though, was a blog on HelloGiggles. The entry chronicles the response to the the abuse since it was first reported. It seems a lot of the sentiments expressed at that time haven’t changed either. If you really want to get your blood boiling, look at the comments section of the link to the report that Rihanna and Brown are back together.

The most disgusting part about it is the statement that Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich made to ABC: “If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us awhile to kind of the over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.” I’m really sorry you had to go through that Mr. Ehrlich. I’m sure that Rihanna is also sorry for getting beaten and choked, because she would never wish that on you. I’m sorry…. but this is a little bigger than your awards show. This is society accepting and promoting a man who assaulted his girlfriend. You only have so much control over how many people buy his albums and request his songs on the radio, but you have total control over whether you have him a stage to blow off his crime against Rihanna and by implication, every other instance of domestic abuse. People may want him, but you should feel a bigger responsibility to society and the stigma placed on the true victims of domestic violence. You may have, but probably didn’t, lose ratings from not having Chris Brown on your awards show for the past two years, but you are not the victim of his crime. The victim was the young woman, who was left bloodied and unconscious from Chris Brown’s violent attack. All you saw was that he sold tons of music and you couldn’t have him on the show because he had a restraining order placed against him by an artist he physically beat. You couldn’t have him then because everyone would talk about how she wasn’t invited. Now that the restraining order has expired, you’ve jumped all over the chance to jump on the Chris Brown money-wagon. The worst part is that you did it on a night dedicated to the memory of a woman, who dealt with the same thing for a large part of her life. It’s like you gave a large middle finger to each and every person who has been the victim of domestic violence, and a pat on the back to those who committed it. Well, I’m sorry… but you’ve lost a viewer of future awards shows as long as you’re in charge of them.