I’d have to say Bob Bailey is the greatest leader I’ve ever been around. CEO at State Auto Insurance Companies for roughly half of my 35-year career there, he was visionary, principled, optimistic, engaging and kind. He also had about him the wonderful folk wisdom of one raised as a Kansas farm boy; employees loved him and could quote many of his horse-sense adages. One that still comes to mind in pivotal situations is this: “Think about how a decision will play out two, three, and four steps down the road.”
His advice seemed simple enough—EQ before EQ was a thing. “Of course! Why not?” The fact of the matter, though, is that we make all sorts of personal decisions that gratify only briefly before reaping a harvest of regret in due season. Be it the one-time fling or the one more drink—and we might as well add unharnessed anger and unbridled tongues—our indulgent choices of the moment ripple ruin through friends, family and finances, sometimes setting a rocky course for those who will travel in the footsteps we leave behind.
Yet I also know many people who are to their family what I call the “transition generation.” These men and women set out in life on a perilous path, the lane of a lineage marked with abuse, dependency, unfaithfulness or disbelief. Yet through vision, resolve and the grace of God, these brave ones changed the course for themselves, their family and offspring yet to come. They heard a Voice and followed Him to a new path of hope, often at a cost of dear friendships, as the apostle Peter notes, “Those who do not know God are surprised you do not join them in the sinful things they do. They laugh at you and say bad things against you.”1
No matter how bumpy the road left behind by our forebears, we can chart a new course for our family; and if we’ve veered off highways paved smooth by our predecessors, we can make our way back by God’s mercy and grace. I can think of no greater leadership than to bless our family—to be a milepost of hope—two, three, four and more steps down the road.
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. (Isaiah 35:8a)
Father, this life can be so tough and so difficult to navigate. Lead me and lead my family in courage down your paths of good and right; bless us, so we may bless those who follow in our steps. Lead us in Christ, for He himself is “the way.”2 In His name and by the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.
Christ in me is hope.
1 1 Peter 4:4 (NLV)
2 John 14:6
[Click here to read today’s Scripture, 1 Peter 4:1-6.]