The Red Plate of Cookies

When I got to the coffee shop that morning she was at the counter telling the counter person she wanted some of the Red Plate of Cookies.

My friend that I was having coffee with came in and started talking with me but I could not stop noticing the elderly woman.

She was hunched over and her head was held low. It was hard for her to look up enough to look over the counter. My guess is she was in her late 70s or early 80s.

She spoke in a soft low voice that the counter person had a hard time understanding her. She was asked several times what she wanted.

She always said she wanted some of those Red Plate of Cookies.

Then I noticed the plate. It was red and held a several home made cookies. It was on the bottom shelf of the display case. The case held lots of other treats, donuts, scones, muffins, small snacks but the Red Plate was at the bottom and in the middle by itself.

I started thinking why does she want those cookies. Is it the only thing she can see in the case? Is her head so low she cannot look any higher? Is she too old to bake and is trying to have something at home? Is she making do the best way she can because some relatives, maybe grandchildren, are coming over for the season?

I was remembering what Kurk, an elder/preacher at church, had said in his message a couple of weeks ago. "be prepared to be interrupted". I was wondering what Jesus wanted me to do. I felt something in my heart. I started to hurt for this woman but I didn't know what to do. Do I try to help her? Do I pray for her?

As I’m completing this note it is several years later and I keep coming back to this event. I wonder today where the woman is and if she is still living. But realizing what happened then I think a great part of leadership is being in the moment. Being available for whatever it takes. “Being prepared to be interrupted” as it were. To be willing to do what it takes to help a person, in the moment, to the next step. Maybe it is just being with them or praying for them.

Too many times leadership is defined as leading an organization or group to some grand destination. Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promise land. Being president of the most powerful country in the known world. Leading some project to completion at work, home, some organization, or church.

Leadership is about people. Nothing is done without people. They're the ones that actually make the leader look good. They dedicate their time, life, and money toward a project. The smallest things matter and make a difference if things are to move forward.

Be a leader. Pay attention to the small things. Pray for the women wanting some cookies and having trouble purchasing them. Take time to make an effort for everyone in your path.

They are put there for a reason.