Now Mr. Maxwell was right.
Leadership is influence. An individually driven force, moving you and others toward or away from something.
Circumstances what they are these days, it seems that thought, talk and examples of leadership are consigned only to the arena of politics. Sports venues. The ramparts of business. Or in the halls of medicine, government and academia.
Each aspirant seeking to influence via an onslaught of media driven images, tweets, blogs, rants and buzz. A quest to monopolize our attention, control the news feed and produce an aura surrounding the chosen ones.
Yet in reality, you need not check your phone to find it.
Because true leadership is all around us.
In this very church.
And if ask me, this is the best kind.
Like the quiet, committed, loving and character driven leadership found in young men like Joe.
Someone just as influential. Just as compelling, commanding and courageous.
Always committed. And truly compassionate.
A man like Joe is content just being the best version of himself absent the accolades.
A rugged individual that goes about his days without the pomp and circumstance.
Doing the right thing. Looking out for others.
Leading the way.
It just so happens that he lives outside the news cycle.
Young men like Joe have figured it out. That exemplary leadership begins first from within.
By embracing a highly personal level of influence.
Thinking the thoughts, that lead to the decisions, that impose the self-discipline that leads one to self-mastery.
Like choosing to “summer” working on the GDC scout camp staff.
Electing to become a crew leader at Boundary Waters.
Attending National Youth Leadership Training.
Or joining Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church – knowing that God can spruce up his inside – while Joe helps the congregation to do the same to the grounds on the outside.
This is a level of leadership and influence that can “see” beyond themselves. The bigger picture as it were.
So it isn’t out of character for men like Joe to willingly give up themselves for others. Often, sharing their most prized resource: the gift of their time.
Though he might be a quarter their age, I am sure the residents at Willowbrook Place here in Thiensville love getting to know Joe. He often goes there to play cards, visit, chat and just be there for all of them.
Being an influence in their lives – and – being influenced by them.
Doing what a leader does.
This multi-generational relationship actually started when Joe embarked on his Eagle project.
With the help of 26 scouts and friends laboring for 86 hours, Joe and his team built a 3 tier gardening box and repaired the existing older ones at the Willowbrook Senior Complex.
His caring venture enabled anybody in a wheelchair to partake in the planting and care of flowers. Taking the next step, he also helped residents plant some of their own vegetables. A fresh, home-grown, welcomed addition for the kitchen
Speaking from experience – there is something essential, therapeutic and life affirming about getting some soil under your fingernails. The planting, weeding, watering and watching things grow is affirming.
A wonderful way to find peace. Re-center yourself. And just let things go.
So maybe to the casual observer, they are just flower boxes.
But if you think about, they really represent the gift of life.
A chance to leave confinement, immobility and dependence – if for just an instant – to go play in the dirt.
Plant the seeds of imagination. Grow some treasured moments. And reap the blessings sown in love.
An opportunity for all of them – the seniors and their adopted grandson – to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Just another day at the office for men like Joe.
All of which leads us here.
So if you will indulge me a wee bit more, I promise, I will leave you with this:
“For the last 5 years and 5 months Boy Scouts has helped me grow, mature and learn a plethora of knowledge from things I use every day – like time management skills – to those I hope I never have to use – like how to treat a sucking chest wound.
Everything I have learned is important, no matter how trivial or repetitive it seemed at the time.
Eventually I hope to have a good career, a home of my own, a wife who supports my dreams and has dreams of her own, 2 or 3 children, a dog, and hunting land.
I’m going keep my faith in God and raise my children loving God as well.
I feel confident about achieving my dreams given what I know.
My family has always been important to me and always will be.
With God at my side I cannot fail.”
Some words of wisdom offered by Joe Wuhrmann.
So let me ask you.
If leadership truly is influence, be honest:
Did his words make you a little misty?
Have you been moved by him, towards him?
There is true leadership to be found right here, amongst all of us.
In those quiet, committed, character driven leaders.
Men of influence.
The very best kind.
On behalf of the Mequon-Thiensville Optimist Club, I would like congratulate – Joe Wuhrmann – Troop 852’s newest Eagle Scout.