Today, I heard an expression that shifted something in me.
“Food is the ultimate expression of care.”
I tend to share the same sentiments. Cook me an outstanding meal, and you have my attention! Food and feeding are bonds that can bind odd bedmates. Cousins will cuss each other out but eat from the same pot in a heartbeat. Kids can be upset with their moms, but sit to a meal prepared by the same hands. Couples can be at each other's throats all day, and still, expect to share a dessert on a ‘compulsory' date.
All this talk of food reminds me of a story of the most exceptional leader there ever will be. Jesus had just fed arguably 10,000 people—this was only one of many miraculous signs He had performed during this short period. They were so enamored by Jesus that they wanted to make Him king. Jesus escaped to the other side of the sea, but guess what? They came after Him, looking to spend more time with Him.
On the surface you would think they were coming to Jesus for more miracles, maybe some more blind eyes opened, lame legs walking or dead babies brought back to life. But Jesus knew better. Here is what He tells them: “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.” (John 6:26, NLT). They rented boats, got on the water and crossed over to the other side of a sea because Jesus fed them. There is a lesson here.
People follow nutrition and nourishment. People stick to care and development. The glamor and fame might draw people, but only growth will glue them to you. People will follow you to ends of the earth if you move their dial. Your team will fight to be with you, and most importantly, fight for you, if they see where they started out in their rearview mirror.
Take time to train your people. Take the time to create environments that foster growth. Design systems and processes, but more importantly, relationships that challenge your people to reach the next level of being. I say we are chefs because chefs are intentional. Skilled chefs don’t just throw food on the plate. They take the time to make the food nutritious, and even more, time to lay it out—appealing to the eyes first before the first bite is ever chewed. Chefs seek to make an impression on every eater. They want to leave a lasting impression that changes the lives of the consumers. Leaders, we are chefs—we prepare delicacies that foster development and growth in our followers.
They say don’t feed stray cats, or they’ll never leave. I say, feed your people, or they’ll never grow, and they will ever leave. Remember, awe and fame will attract them, but food and growth will keep them.