My wife was looking through some old email last night. She ran across emails she sent out to people when I was in the hospital fighting for my life in January 2008. I think her words paint a better picture than anything I could say. Below is a snippet of the full letter she wrote…
Last weekend Robb started showing signs of not feeling well. He was running a low-grade fever, so we really didn’t think much about it since this is a very normal time of the year to get sick. He went to the doctor on Monday who crossed the flu off the list and said it was probably just a bug that would have to run its course.
Tuesday, his fever reached 104, so I took him to the ER at North Hills Hospital where they eventually diagnosed him with a kidney infection and sent him home with an antibiotic and some ibuprofen.
The next couple of days he continued to mess around with the high fever, and his body just got weaker and weaker to the point of not being able to walk on his own without assistance. We started to question if maybe he was having an allergic reaction to the meds, and on Thursday evening, we decided to make our way back to the ER.
Over several hours of fluids being given to him and continued low blood pressure and high heart rate, they admitted him to a regular room and continued the testing. At this time, his blood pressure was hanging around 80/50 and his heart rate was around 145.
Later that afternoon, the doctors determined they needed to remove his gall bladder and appendix, but had never seen this kind of double diagnosis before. They soon began to realize what they were seeing was appearing to be a symptom of something much bigger.
They moved him into ICU and began to check his heart, which was only pumping at 25%. RED FLAGS!!!
With much wisdom (and we all know where that came from), they determined this had the high potential of being out of their league, and decided to care-flight him to Medical City Dallas, where they said there was the best cardiac care.
The doctors began to realize that whatever this virus was, it had reached his heart, and they had to stop it before everything started shutting down. All they could tell me at the time was that your husband is very, very sick, but that he was at the best place possible.
Through Friday night and Saturday, they began to give him the most powerful antibiotics to combat it. He eventually had to be put on an external breathing machine, which helped him not have to work so hard. At this time, he was too weak to open his eyes and look at me, but he could hear just fine, so I would just go whisper words of life into his ear. I knew the Lord was there, and I know he did too.
The story extends much beyond this point. But it ends with the Lord flat out healing me. No surgeries. No long-lasting ill effects. Today I’m completely off any medication and experience absolutely no physical impact from those two weeks of trauma. I teach several classes at Gateway Church that walk through the story; perhaps I will elaborate more over time.
I’m amazed how, when I read her letter, the emotions from three years ago return as if they were birthed last week. The memories I have are crystal-clear. The lines haven’t blurred yet. Today I thought I would look at my story through new lenses: those of leadership.
1. Reports are good, but God is Bigger than Reports — We had lots of doctors around us giving us news about my progress, some good, some not so good. But we had a faith extending beyond the reports believing that, somehow, God would work things out–and he did! Leaders have access to all kinds of reports: reports about the organization; reports about profits; reports about taxes; reports about personnel; reports about goals; and on and on. These reports are good, but let us never forget we serve a God who is the ultimate report writer. What takes doctors and professionals days to write up, God can change with a Word!
2. Even the Best Leaders Need a Shoulder on Which to Lean — My wife is my best friend. I can’t imagine having had to fight through the sickness and recovery without her. She was by my side the entire way. And in the moments I felt the most insane she drew even closer. Leaders need a friend they can cling to in the darkest moments. For some it may be a spouse, others a friend, still others a coach or mentor from the past. Leaders who lead through isolation aren’t heroes; they’re just alone. Today is the day to find that person who will walk with you. Don’t be afraid. They’re out there, and you can trust them.
3. God is the Hero of Every Leader’s Success Story — I had to work very hard to reach a point of complete health. It was a full year before I could describe any part of my life as “normal.” Yet despite my sweat, tears, and best efforts, God remains the hero. He is the one who restored my life. Not me. Leaders have histories of dark failures, but we also have mountains of great success. Be reminded that you reach that mountaintop because God is the hero. And even if you claim to stand on the mountain by your own strength, remember that only God makes mountains.
I pray you find this post encouraging. If you know someone who is facing serious illness or despair, consider directing them here today. May God’s life-giving presence be with you as you walk through life–as you lead.
Do you have any stories of God’s tangible salvation and how it has impacted the way you view leadership?