Life lessons from next door

I was blessed to grow up next door to an incredible woman.  Katie Sue Fewell was my neighbor, my great aunt, and – most importantly- a tremendous role model.

Katie Sue was a high school history teacher in my hometown of Alamo, Tennessee.  She was the sister of my grandmother, Mary.  Katie Sue was the ultimate community servant.  Every blood drive, voter registration initiative and fundraiser that took place in our hometown had Katie Sue’s fingerprints all over it.

She was incredibly wise.  In looking back over her life, I recall four distinct leadership themes that Katie Sue demonstrated each and every day.  I’d like to share those with you.

Always wear the same size hat. (Humility) 

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 14:11

Always wearing the same size hat means being humble.  Don’t let your accomplishments in life, family or career swell your head.  We need to remember that it can all be gone in a second.  Our lives…and our achievements…are temporary.  A humble, gentle spirit allows us to appreciate the gifts and talents we have received, and encourages us to use those talents to further God’s work on this earth.  Humility breeds a servant heart.

We are all turtles on a fencepost.  (Gratitude)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

You know the story.  A farmer and his granddaughter were walking across the expansive family farm.  They came across a turtle sitting atop a fencepost on the back of their property.  After surveying this sight for several minutes, the farmer looked at his granddaughter and said, “I don’t know how that turtle got up there, but I do know that it had some help.” Whatever we’ve accomplished in life, we need to realize that we’ve had help.  It may have been a parent, neighbor, youth minister or family friend.  And for this help- we should be grateful.  We should take the time each day to thank someone who has helped us along the way.

Bloom where you are planted.  (Perseverance) 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

Life has dealt all of us difficult circumstances at one time or another.  You can’t always predict what obstacles will come your way.  Life is hard, but we need to develop an attitude that looks for the best in any given situation.  Tough times will come, and we need to be prepared to dig in, work hard and make the best of these difficult situations.  Our attitude is the key to perseverance during difficult times.

Choose to be brave.  (Courage) 

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

It’s easy to think about courage in a “Hollywood” sense.  We all dream about those life-or-death moments we see in the movies- and how we could be as brave as those characters on the big screen.  But how about everyday life?  What about those times at work or at home when we need to be courageous and take a stand- but we don’t.  It might be peer pressure or just avoiding a conflict- whatever the reason…courage is developed one small action at a time.  Being courageous develops integrity…and integrity comes from both public and private life decisions.  Be courageous- whatever the situation.

Humility.  Gratitude.  Perseverance.  Courage.

Katie Sue left this earth in 1999- over 15 years ago.  Her lessons and example live on.  I pray that all of us have the opportunity to be a”Katie Sue” for someone- someday.

God bless.


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