It’s the 3rd of July, or “the 4th of July Eve.” John and I are with family, ribs are ready to be put on the grill, a watermelon is on ice, and there are fireworks planned. We are ready for the holiday.
I have noticed that we celebrate holiday “eves” inconsistently. New Year’s Eve is a huge event; Memorial Day Eve is not. Our Christmas Eve plans include fun and great food, but most Thanksgiving Eves are filled with stress and leftovers.
We do not celebrate the 3rd of July and I am not suggesting that we add it to our list of federal holidays, but we should consider what happened on that date in 1776.
History tells us that that the Continental Congress’s vote to adopt a resolution of independence was taken on July 2nd, not July 4th. The 4th of July was the day the day that the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. (The document wasn’t signed until August 2.) The members of that Continental Congress made a decision one day and two days later the wording was decided and the hard work of obtaining independence began.
The day between those two decisions and announcements interests me. The 3rd of July was filled with the hard work of making a tough decision into a reality. This is not a task for the timid or the novice. This is the work of leaders. To make a decision is difficult; to ensure project completion is something only leaders can do. And, so this day, this 3rd of July, let us praise those leaders who did not back away from the harder work of finishing the job.
You know what I mean. We have seen the politician or the supervisor announce the new program and then not do the hard work of putting pen to paper, of preparing the team to do the new work, of carrying the burden of knowing that some collateral damage will be done as the new program or policy is enacted. True leaders not only envision the future, they do the work.
Years ago, I was on a team that was working on an important presentation. This was in the “olden” days before all us were PowerPoint Rangers! We did a lot of our work with pen and paper and then took hours to make changes using cumbersome computer programs.
Our supervisor took ill and a substitute was assigned. We had not worked with this substitute supervisor and so we were curious as to how they would approach this mid-project assignment. Late one afternoon the presentation was reviewed and the substitute supervisor directed changes. Making the changes didn’t surprise us, but the supervisor’s order that the next draft be available at 0800 the next day shocked us. The changes would take hours and it was already well past the established end of the work day. The supervisor packed their briefcase and left without a word; we were to do the work. Late that night, exhausted, we were in our stocking feet, laughing, running between computer and printer, calling ourselves the “shoe making elves.” It quit being fun after midnight.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the substitute supervisor never got our full support.
You know what I mean. We have all been there doing the work that must be done between the big, public announcements. The work that is done by leaders on the “3rds” isn’t fun, it isn’t glamorous. But, it is important. Leaders stay the course; they finish the job; they lead.
Friend, do the work of the 3rd and have a great 4th!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)