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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Effective Leadership

By Stephanie Williams Dean

During my lifetime, I’ve held several job positions working for major medical corporations. Also, I’ve held membership in various reputable service clubs and organizations. These have been excellent opportunities to witness different styles of leadership.

Have you ever considered yourself to be a leader? You might hold a leadership position within your job or fill a position on a club board. These are obvious forms of leadership.

If the truth is known, we’re all leading someone toward something, either through our words or our actions. Whether you realize it or not, people are learning from you, and what they learn is either good – or not so good. We are all servant leaders.

Interestingly, Jesus chose the act of being a servant as His concept of leadership. Think about that for a moment. As a leader, Jesus humbled himself in servitude. So we see humility and not ego as a primary necessity for effective leadership. There’s nothing in it for you.

In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus teaches, “instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave…”

Strong leaders work for their people, not for themselves.

Another characteristic of a strong leader is the ability to focus on serving others and not themselves. They purposefully focus on each person’s unique talents, utilizing and building those up. It is a weak leader whose greater focus lies solely on weakness.

There’s no place whatsoever for jealousy or competitiveness in strong leadership.  To serve your competition with a pure motivation of seeing them do well – even better than yourself – is servant leadership at its highest level.

Love is a crucial element of servant leadership. When Jesus assumed the servant role and washed the feet of his followers, it was to show them the full extent of his love. Do we humbly serve people only to the degree we love them?

Finally, a character quality that’s vital to all types of leadership is teachability.  If you’re not teachable, you’re not leadership material. With leadership comes a willingness to admit what you don’t know in order to learn. Effective leaders are continual learners.

Recollections: Seeds, Summers, & Shade

By Kevin F. Wishon

Locally, in the nineteen seventies and eighties, air-conditioning usage was still inconsistent, depending on where you were at that time. The technology was improving, but a residential window AC unit requiring 220 volts was common. So, if someone was looking to control expenses, air conditioning was the luxury sacrificed. I clearly remember a section of the local high school being un-air-conditioned and a history class moving to another building on days when the heat stifled student’s concentration. So humid summers were uncomfortable at times without air conditioning. That’s when we were glad for the shade of a densely wooded area or even a small grove of trees.

Shade was a nice escape, but the cool sweet taste of watermelon during those months was far better. It seemed to be the one thing that satisfied when the sweltering heat diminished your appetite for heavier meals. Sometimes, on Sunday afternoons, we would stop to buy from an individual selling fruit next to the Yadkin River Bridge off Highway 64. At other times, we would stop at a produce market once situated close to where Highway 158 and 801 cross today. This market had something I found delightful: a walk-in cooler. I remember the door opening and frigid air instantly bathing me in a cool wash. The sight of dozens of chilled melons spread about the cooler was divine as we anticipated the delicious taste of cool juicy watermelon. Thumping a few of the fruit, we searched for one with just the right sound, which promised it to be a fully ripe melon.

Once home, a towel and a long, sharp knife made quick work of cutting the fruit into long manageable pieces. There was one slice of the watermelon I always desired but only received occasionally. It was the section of the melon void of seeds. Most of the slices were likely to have plenty of dark seeds in them, but in each melon, there were at least two barren areas. I loved these slices because it was all watermelon. However, I didn’t let those seed get in the way of my enjoying this summertime delight. I eventually discovered I could remove them all with the tip of a knife blade and- voilà, I had the seedless slice I so desired.

Cantaloupe was another summertime treat along with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and peaches. I still enjoy them today, but they are not as refreshing as I one time remember. Nostalgia may be part of the reason. Yet, I also suspect it’s because I’ve gotten used to a cooler lifestyle. How much sweeter might those fruits taste on a hot, humid day sitting in the shade? I’m not willing to test my theory in this mid-summer weather, but give me a seedless slice of watermelon, and I’ll let you know in September.

The Lost Colony

By Linda H. Barnette

One of the most important times in history happened during the 14th and 15th centuries as the most powerful countries on earth at that time, England, France, Spain, and Portugal, all sent explorers to the New World.  They had all heard about the Vikings’ earlier trip to what is now North America and their failed settlement of Vineland.  The rulers of these countries paid explorers to go to the New World either to discover its riches, to find a trading path to the Far East, or to convert the pagan peoples to Christianity.

These voyages of discovery were especially supported by Queen Elizabeth I of England. Ostensibly trying to find an easier trading path to the East than the one discovered by Marco Polo, the queen commissioned Sir Walter Raleigh to send people to establish a colony in the New World.  Although Raleigh himself never came to America, he sponsored 3 different expeditions.

The one to what would later become North Carolina is of particular interest to me as a lover of history.  In July of 1587, the last of Raleigh’s expeditions, a ship captained by John White landed on what is now Roanoke Island carrying 120 men, women, and children.  It seems obvious that this was meant to be a permanent colony.  Of interest are several things, including the fact that the voyage took longer than expected, so when the colonists got there in mid-summer, it was already too late to plant crops.  Also, the 2 Indians who had gone to England on another expedition and returned with John White, had very different views of the white men’s motives. Wanchese feared the white man and returned to his tribe whereas Manteo stayed with the colonists. Of particular significance is that White’s daughter gives birth to Virginia Dare, the first white child ever born in this place.

But there is more.  They don’t have nearly enough supplies to make it through the winter. In addition, that year was a time of one of the worst droughts in North Carolina history. The fear of the natives was also growing because of the unexplained death of one of the settlers.

One week after his granddaughter is born, White makes the ill-fated decision to return to England for more supplies.  Circumstances , including the war between England and Spain, prevented White from coming back for 3 long years, and when he finally came back, the colonists were nowhere to be found.  The only clue they left behind was the carving of 3 letters CRO carved into a tree, and they were never seen or heard of again.  All that remains is a mystery. There have been many theories of their destiny, but nothing has been proven.

How different it might have been if White had returned, found the colonists, and built the utopian paradise he had dreamed of.  He could have established a lasting settlement, made peace with the Indians, watched his granddaughter grow up, and been known as the founder of a new, perfect land.

Not Her Fault

By David R. Moore

She turned 16 and was the apple of her father’s eye.  She was a great kid and was making okay grades at school.  For her birthday, her parents surprised her by taking her down to the auto dealer and buying her a brand new car, bright red and shiny.  After being handed the keys, she was so excited that she did not see the oncoming pick-up truck as she pulled out of the dealer’s lot.  She received a ticket from a policeman.   She had to wait a few weeks before her car was out of the shop.  The accident wasn’t her fault, they told me.  She was just excited about the new car.

A month later she had a fender bender in the parking lot of her school.  Again, it was not her fault.  The car in front of her stopped too quickly.  Repairs were made.  Three months later she totaled the car.  It was not her fault since it was raining hard when she hit a big puddle and skidded off the road into a ditch and tree.

Her parents bought her a used car.  All seemed to being going well until she brought the car home with the side all scraped up from one of those inconvenient cement posts at the fast food drive through.  It was not her fault as another car was going around the outside and made her turn too sharp in her lane.  The car was not put in for repairs.  A few months later, she damaged her rear bumper and quarter panel backing into a parking spot.  It was not her fault as the truck she backed into was taking up some of her parking space.  The car was put into the shop to repair both current and earlier damages.

A few months later, she totaled that car.  It was not her fault, they told me.  She was driving through a nice neighborhood when she accidently dropped her phone.  She was trying to retrieve it when her car veered and hit a mailbox.  This was not your usual mailbox; it was encased in brick.

The parents finally decided that they needed to implement some parenting skills.  They had previously paid for her cars, the repairs, the insurance, the gas, and provided her with spending money.  They came to realize it was time for the daughter to take on responsibility.  She needed to have ‘some skin in the game.’  The parents had her take a part-time job where most of the money earned was placed into bank account.  Money was deducted from that account to help cover the costs of gas and insurance as they drove her around for her various activities for the rest of her high school years.

The parents had her work part-time while living on campus at college.  Part of the money earned from her job was used to help pay for tuition and books.  When she became a sophomore, the parents helped her a little in her buying an older used car.  She had to pay for all insurance and gas.  All through college, she never had an accident and they never had to tell me it was not her fault.

RWG Literary Corner

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