Leadership Lessons from a Tree

Aspen forest image looking up at the golden aspen leaves above in White River National Forest, Near Aspen Colorado

In the gorgeous area where I live—Summit County, Colorado—we don’t have a wide variety of foliage; 9,000+ feet in elevation doesn’t make for a hospitable environment for many types of trees. But we do have one of the most beautiful trees in abundance: the Aspen tree.

Aspens are stunning in every season. During our winters they have no leaves but their graceful white barks stand like dignified, silent witnesses to the strength of God in the 13,000+ foot mountains. In the spring their leaves are a bright, springy green, which contrasts beautifully with the dark evergreens. And in the fall, the vibrant golden trails that wind elegantly up the mountains are just one more testimony in this lovely place that God is real.

But my absolutely favorite attribute of these trees is what has caused people to dub them the “Quaking Aspens.”

Because of the way their leaves are engineered, they are ultra sensitive to movement, and therefore when the most minute breeze comes along they often look like they are quaking with no external provocation at all. And the most extraordinary part is that no other tree is moving! The truth is, these trees feel the slightest changes in the air before any other tree does.

In the world of trees, Aspens are the leaders.

To pick up on the slightest change of the spiritual climate around us…My friends, this is our responsibility as leaders. We must be more like the Quaking Aspens.

We are to be the very first to feel the wind of the Holy Spirit.

Our hearts and spirits should be turned in expectancy every day to feel where the Spirit is moving, see what He is doing, and hear how we can cooperate with Him. This doesn’t mean we must have full understanding, only that we hear and obey.

We are to allow that Wind to ruffle our leaves.

May others observe something happening in us, even if we are the only ones on the aspen 2move. May we have the courage to go first, even when we aren’t sure exactly where we are being led…even when we aren’t certain others will follow. God does not call us to launch in with fear or timidity, but wholeheartedly so that all those around can be inspired by the assurance of His voice and guidance.

And we are to do it all with joy.

Just as those little leaves joyfully lift up their faces to their Creator, may we never lose the wonder in His calling, the conviction that we are blessed beyond measure to lead, and respect for those who follow us.

As we feel the breath of God sweep over us, stirring and moving us with His power and glory, He will change us. He will guide us, and He will move us. And we may just turn around and find that the whole forest is moving with us.

“Let those who fear you turn to me
For evidence of your wise guidance.
And let me live whole and holy, soul and body,
So I can always walk with my head held high.”

–Psalm 119:79-80, The Message

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