Smoke Gets In Your Eyes



It’s amazing what you can’t see when smoke gets in your eyes.

The name of that song and the reality of dense smoke obscuring your vision is a great metaphor for all the events that shape your life and yet you don’t see them. As we lead our ministries we are responsible for seeing through the smoke and leading with clarity. Fortunately, we can see with the eyes of our heart, not just the two on either side of our nose.

Let me talk about smoke for a minute. Judy and I are returning from Montana and Glacier national park. They are experiencing the worst set of fires in history. When we drove to Logan Pass coming up the West Side of the park, they shut the road behind us because of the approaching fire and accompanying smoke. As we made our way through the mountain roads we were awed by the grandeur and majesty of God’s creation. We were amazed even though we were seeing it through the lens of rapidly deploying smoke.

How often does this experience occur when we look at our staff and wonder about their capacity to meet the ministry challenges ahead? It is important that the snapshot be focused and clear. Do you wonder how clearly you see the issues, opportunities, and the people?

Clarity about the needs and opportunities is important.

Without clarity about mission, we are leading others to the wrong solution. Without clarity about options and opportunities, we are leading others to a potentially wrong conclusion. And without clarity about our staff, we risk not having the right people on the right bus going to the right destination.

“Smoke Get in Your Eyes” was written by Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. More than five groups have recorded the song since. The version by The Platters is the best known. When I hear it, I pause and think about what words can mean.

Have you ever had smoke in your eyes?

Today as we drove through Central Montana, we could look directly at the sun that reminded us more of a big orange circle rather than the fireball obscured by the moon a few weeks ago. It seemed like we could see the sun clearly when the fact of the matter was that it was so obscured by smoke that we could actually look at it directly.

Strange how something can appear so clear when in reality, you’re not seeing it accurately at all. Problems are like that. You think you’re clear about the issue and then you find out it is only a symptom. You do have smoke in your eyes.

There is so much advice available about leadership. There are servant leaders, ministry leaders, political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and family leaders. Remember the story of the man running frantically through the woods searching for something important? When he came alongside a fellow traveler he asked, “Have you seen a whole lot of people come this way?” “Why?” asked the fellow. The frantic searcher answered, “I need to find them as I am their leader.” Talk about having smoke in your eyes!

One more perspective about eye smoke. You have a couple of options when you are confronted by the smoke. Get away from it, find a mask to shield you from it, or clear the smoke from your eyes. I think it is a little like having cataracts removed. I’ve not had the issue, but many I know have. in every case when I ask about the removal operation, they say, “it is so good to be able to see clearly again.”

We can each work hard to see clearly.

Sometimes it takes patience and sometimes an operation. Whatever it takes it is worth it. Jesus told us that only those who are friends of his will be able to understand and see clearly the Kingdom of God. The promise and reality of this kind of clarity makes going through any amount of smoke worthwhile.

Recognize the smoke and let’s clearly move towards that Kingdom together. And, let’s do it for a lifetime.


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