Several years ago, I traveled to another city to attend a conference for members of the American Association of Christian Counselors. While there, I met two different men doing the same work in a very different way.
I was looking forward to the first session I had signed up for. A nationally known Christian psychologist was going to speak on the topic of his latest book which I had found to be an excellent resource. Unfortunately, the session was not much more than a PowerPoint presentation on the contents of the book. I had hoped for something more.
Between sessions, I was perusing the book and resource tables set up in the lobby when I heard someone say, “Would you like me to sign that?”
Turning around, I found the speaker I had just listened to standing behind me. “Excuse me?” I asked, having no idea what he was talking about.
He then pointed to the books under my arm I had purchased moments earlier. On the top of the short stack was a book written by him. He pointed to that book and again asked, “Would you like me to sign that for you?”
“Uh, sure,” I responded in surprise.
I handed him the book and he retrieved a Sharpie from his suitcoat pocket. As he quickly scrawled his signature on the inside cover, I remarked how I had enjoyed his most recent book. Hardly before I could finish my sentence, he snapped the top back on his pen, placed it back into his pocket, patted me on the shoulder and said, “Thanks!” before hurrying off down the hallway.
I watched in surprise as the man walked away, not sure what had just happened. While I appreciated the writings by this colleague, I had no interest in obtaining his signature!
Shaking my head, I made my way to the next session. This presentation would also feature a nationally known Christian psychologist, only he was better known and had written even more books.
I had arrived at the session early and several of the attendees were standing around talking to each other. Suddenly, out of the group stepped the man I had come to listen to, and he stepped right in front of me.
Extending his hand, he introduced himself and immediately started asking questions … what was my name, where was I from, what do I do there, what are the challenges I’m facing in such service? Looking me in the eye and focusing all his attention on me, he continued to ask questions and listen with great interest. Finally, he was pulled away by an introduction of himself to the audience, but not before telling me he had been delighted in sharing together and would like to talk later if time allowed. He then stepped to the podium and shared a captivating presentation that included interaction and discussion with his audience.
At that conference, I met two very different men. The second man had come to serve, the first to sign books. The second man had come to listen and encourage, the first to be listened to and looked at. The second man meant to be second, the first man intended to be first. Can you guess which was the greater leader with the greater impact?