Leadership speaker Simon Sinek says,
“Leadership is the responsibility to take care of those around us. It is making those around you feel like you have their backs.”
Each month, I sit down with people who see it as their responsibility to care for others, have their backs, and leave an organization or even an industry better than they found it. After the first two years of Project Legacy, I am realizing how important it is for today’s leaders to have the backs of the next generation of leaders: today’s students. At the classical Christian school I serve, we like to say, “Big takes care of little,” and that’s exactly what Doug Endicott has committed his retired years to doing: he is someone who has the backs of his family, his church, and the next generation.
(In fact, in this video Doug answers the question, “Tell me about your greatest achievement as a leader” by narrating his experience in youth ministry leadership.)
After 30 years as a highly effective sales engineer (the bridge between the engineers and the clients), Doug is now using his retired years to focus on being a mentor to the next generation. Doug offered two lovely perspectives on life and leadership:
A Mission Greater than Money
During our interview, Doug said,
“You have to have a servant’s heart to do sales. In my 20s, I was chasing wealth and I quickly realized that those wrong motivations may get me an initial sale, but I was not getting asked back.”
Doug is one of those backwards people (tongue in cheek) that still believes that progress and prosperity come by building upon the foundation of character. He continued,
“If you’re working with people but don’t have character, eventually the false façade is going to fall down. Eventually, even actors have to get back to their normal roles in life.”
As a salesman, there were even times where he would recommend a prospective client to work with another engineering firm, because they offered a better solution. Of this story, he said,
“Why would I sacrifice my credibility earned over years to earn one sale in the moment?”
Mr. Endicott was clearly not mastered by money and saw resources as a servant, not a master. Doug said,
“The money comes when you treat people the right way and provide value that solves their problems.”
Doug’s mission was to serve people and he sought to obey Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have” and Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The number of people who become possessed by their possessions is way too high. As a head of school at a classical Christian school, I have the burden and blessing of working with peoples’ most treasured possessions: their money, their religion, and their kids. If leadership is about taking care of those around us and making them feel like we have their backs, money is one of the many tools that can be deployed to have their backs.
A Retirement Greater than Relaxation
Doug is a grandfather with two sons in the military (one is a doctor and one is a lawyer), and is focused on caring for his seven grandchildren. While one of his boys is currently deployed in Afghanistan, the other has been tapped to be deployed next year. Doug sees his sons’ service as his opportunity to invest in the grandchildren.
When I asked why, he shared,
“I retired at the age of 59 which is the same age at which my father-in-law retired. Everyone was worried when he retired because he was one of those type A driven types that ran a company and worked 10 hours per day 6 days per week. We all wondered if he would lose his mind when he retired. We couldn’t have been more wrong, because his main focus became mentoring the grandchildren. He would drive to us kids’ homes to build relationships and memories with the grandchildren. He died when he was 71 and really made those 12 years count with the grandkids. In fact, I can often see him in how my boys act today. So, as I think about this stage of my life, I want to pour as much I can into my seven grandchildren.”
Mr. Endicott is a vivid reminder that our actions can either betray our faith in Christ or confirm it. For those in the world that do not profess Jesus Christ, many of them resist the Gospel, because they see a massive credibility gap. Ultimately, the cross should be the stumbling block for those who reject Christ, not the lives of those who follow Christ. Doug incarnates a quote we have shared with the grandparents at Coram Deo:
“An inheritance is what you leave behind to the next generation. A legacy is what you leave in the next generation.”
Instead of focusing on the obstacles of his boys being gone, he has chosen to see it as an opportunity to leave a legacy for Christ in his grandkids.
Doug’s comments on leadership, money, and the next generation lead to one final thought: good fruit comes from good soil. If the fruit signifies the results that come from our leadership (parenting, sales, ministry, etc), the good soil refers to our internal motivations and our relationships with people. This is intuitive and it’s why you don’t like to be sold by someone that you don’t know well, because you don’t have the reservoir of trust to support the solicitation.
College Park Pastor Mark Vroegop has said that, “We must build the bridges of grace that can handle the weight of truth.” The content of our character and the substance of our relationships with those we serve must have a level of expectation as well as support to enable sustainable results. The tricky part is that sometimes people get good results by doing bad things, but God has a way of sorting the truth of the matter out over time. So remember, good fruit comes from good soil.
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