Ron's Material Leadership Blog

It is my sincerest hope that the stories I share are helpful to others. I have experienced first hand that many people toil in obscurity, searching for answers, ashamed to reach out and ask for help. This blog will contain experiences and wisdom that I have gained over the years that I hope will offer guidance in dealing with some of life's challenges.

Why the name material leadership? If you are curious the answer is on my website.
The link on the side bar.

Lead well


Thursday, June 28, 2007

What's in your Wallet...?


In October of 2003 the Mountains of San Bernardino County were awash in flames. The Grand Prix fire was in its glory burning across the countryside like a fully loaded freight train. Every evening the members of my community would gather on their street and watch as the flames glowed in the distance coming ever closer to our homes.

Rancho Cucamonga is on the edge of the deserts of southern California. It has a hot arid climate that is unforgiving in the dead of summer. Temperatures regularly top 115 degrees. Rain is scarce here. When the old song claimed it never rains in southern California, they were not kidding. A couple inches in January, February, a sprinkle in July and that’s about it for the year. You can imagine that all the brush and scrub is scorched and dry by the time the fall, I mean the fire season approaches. 03 was a particularly active and deadly year in so-Cal. It was a blessing that no one died in the Grand Prix fire but seven fire fighters down toward San Diego were not so lucky later that season in the OLD fire. Remember to say a prayer for those brave fire fighters and their families as they continue coping with their loss.

It was a Friday morning in late October. I remember it clearly because I awoke to a strong smell of smoke. I went outside to see where the fire had progressed to and was shocked. It was less than a mile from my house. (see photo below) Although I lived over a half mile from the fire line with other suburbs directly between my family and the fire, there was still cause for concern. You see there is an electrical right of way cutting down from the mountains running along the back wall of all my neighbors’ houses across the street from my house. The fire could burn up to within 300 feet of my front door. If the fire burns down here I thought all bets are off. It did!

So imagine being faced with an unthinkable situation. Your house and all your worldly possessions could go up in flames any minute.

What do you do?

What do you think about?

Do you panic?

Do you reach out for help?

Moments like these are, as one writer put it, when true character is revealed. I watched with fascination as a few of my neighbors packed everything conceivable into their oversized SUV’s and off to a safe place they scurried. Others casually sought hotel reservations and made a short holiday of the affair. What did I do?

I took stock of the situation and considered my values. Faith Family, Integrity, Learning Teaching. I decided that only the first two were at play here. Everything I “own” is on loan. I am a steward of the possessions God gave me. This made the decision easy. The stuff is irrelevant. It might be a good idea to grab the will, the insurance policies and the photos that could not be replaced, but that’s it. Next take care of the family. We were fortunate to be invited to stay in the home of a dear friend and pastor of our church. Tim welcomed us into his home and allowed us to ride it out. We never did worry about all the stuff. I returned home to see what was going on in the neighborhood that Saturday and saw a scene that only brave firefighters should ever see. Pitch black at 11 am. (Photo below) Air so thick you could cut it with a knife; ash and flaming debris floating down from the sky all around.

That fateful day taught me a lesson about myself and others. We all value something. I have heard it said that if you want to know what a person values study their check book or perhaps their debit card receipts these days. Where people spend their money is a pretty good indication of what they value. So to quote the credit card commercial…

What’s in your wallet?



Shalene said...

Wow! What a moving post. It gave me goose bumps. I live in Central CA, so know first hand the destruction that fires do to our state. Especially down south. I remember a particularly bad fire in 1994 I believe it was. They called it the Powerhouse fire, in the foothills above Fresno. I lived there at the time, and we could not leave because there were no open roads to evacuate through. Very scary! But the Lord saw us through. I thank Him above that the fire never came near enough for us to even see, but even still the thought that do through your head. I'm sure you understand. Blessings to you!
-----In Him

Dan King said...

Awesome post! Things like this really help us all to put things in perspective!

Ron H said...

Shalene, Dan

Thank you both for your kind comments. It was a life changing time . I am glad to have been able to walk through it in faith.


My Favorites

Thoughts on a Recent Read

The Dip by Seth Godin

This was the first of Mr. Godin’s books I have read and I must say it will not be the last. I enjoyed this book and found its message wise and on point for our age. The premise of the book is that there is a time to quit a role, project, effort and a time to stay. When we have the opportunity to be the very best and are willing to pay the price, it is time to stay. When it is clear that staying will result in mediocrity or worse yet (Mr. Godin’s term for a dead end) a cul-de-sac, it is time to move on to something where we can be our best. The dip is the place in between. The place where we face opposition, adversity and discouragement. It is here that many wrongly chose to give up when greatness is not that far away for the brave souls who persevere.

Complexity: Low

Length: Short

Compelling: Very much

Worthwhile: Definitely