This picture may not look like much to you, but it’s a dream come true. In Bungoma, Kenya, a kitchen is being built at a school – a kitchen that will provide a safe place to cook meals for children and their families in this remote and desperately poor village near the Ugandan border. Currently, a metal shed is being used as the kitchen. With little ventilation, the shed is an oppressive hotbox for all who work there. It’s a miracle anything can be done in it, but the people smile and they work and they don’t complain. Six days a week, both breakfast and lunch are cooked and served to the 130 students, staff, and children who stand near the fence near the grove of trees that serves as a makeshift dining hall. For many, those meals are literally life-giving.
And now the village of Bungoma is seeing God at work, making a way.
It’s a powerful image of His blessing. But that’s not why I want you to see the picture. Take a look – I want you to see something else – another blessing to that school and the children and to the entire village. The people – the ones working now to build the kitchen – are villagers. There are government leaders there, working alongside pastors and farmers and teachers. The whole village sees the value of the dream, and all are laboring to help it become a reality – even those who have no kids at the school.
As leaders, we so often step away from the “getting our hands dirty” labor of the day. We believe we are called to cast vision and set strategy and offer guidance, and we are even coached to let go of the day-to-day so we’re not viewed as lording over our people. But something happens when we step away.
Imagine the picture without leaders in it. Work would certainly get done. But the children eating their meal under that grove of trees wouldn’t have the best picture of all to look at: community.
When we as leaders step away, when we isolate ourselves from the people we lead and stop getting our hands dirty in the labor of the day, community suffers. Let’s come alongside our people, investing in our villages. Let’s set the example of what it means to serve well, to labor to help dreams become reality.
Let’s be community.