You hear, “supper is ready,” and respond, “awe mom, the Pederson farm isn’t done yet!” Doesn’t she realize you need to get this field done before the rain comes tomorrow? Dad would understand, but he is in the barn milking. Fortunately, mom always lets you get back to planting after you eat; tonight, a quick meal is on the agenda.
Just like all young agriculturists, farmers have a grand responsibility. A responsibility to care for God’s creatures, His land and His children. From a young age, farmers find themselves serving others. They may serve their farms, their businesses, their communities, their families, anyone and anything they come in connection with. Farmers recognize the opportunity each new day brings to make a difference, working from dawn until dusk and then some. From the first seed planted to the last corn plant being plucked from the ground, from the birth of a beautiful, bouncing heifer calf, to her last day in your pasture, they know the power of life and what can become of each and every day. Because they find value in opportunity, farmers, agriculturists and Farm Bureau members are cornerstones outside of their farms as well. They serve church groups, school boards, FFA alumni teams, they are 4-H project leaders, volunteers, you name it, there is an agriculturist doing it!
Adam Jones, Jack Herricks and I were challenged to read The Servant by James Hunter, for our Leadership Institute Class and each of us was struck immediately by the underlying message to serve. Deep down, this is not a new concept for agriculturists. The idea of serving a purpose with a greater result than satisfaction in the immediate short term is something we strive for every day. Who else works a job where you get one shot per year to get it right? Now to transform what we do each day on our farms into a leadership theory. For example, we take care of our cattle by meeting their need for shelter, nutrition and comfort. How do we meet the legitimate needs of people? How do we turn our leadership on our farms into leading people?
James Hunter describes an old versus new paradigm in The Servant. This idea takes the old leadership model consisting of CEO, managers, supervisors, employees and customers, and flips it upside down. He compares power and authority. Power is ‘do it or else’ while authority is influence. We learned that we build authority any time we serve and sacrifice for others. You know the heifer who calved at 2:30 in the morning? She needed your help, what about those you lead in organizations and on boards? Do they need your service and sacrifice? It is like the Law of Harvest, you reap what you sow. People serve and sacrifice because they have the love to do so. There is love as a feeling and love as a behavior. The behavior of love allows us to serve and act with passion. We love because we have will. Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, has an equation for will. Intentions plus actions equal will. Because of these steps, one can earn the right to be called a leader. While it sounds simple, 180 pages can hardly be summarized in a paragraph. I encourage you to read The Servant by James Hunter if serving or leadership is your destiny. Even if you are guiding a family or farm, it counts as leadership!
Agriculture happens because we all have a deep passion burning in our hearts to not only do something bigger but also to serve God’s land, His creatures and His children. From the point that passion infiltrates our hearts, we start serving. Serving those Berber threads in our parents’ living room, serving our families and serving our farms. We start identifying the legitimate needs and meeting them. When we finally “grow up,” it is our communities and our worlds which are served, creating a deeper value all around us. Just like the little farmer you were first introduced to, keep serving and find enjoyment in doing so!
Tina is a 2013 graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a BS in agri-business and will be graduating in December from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a MBA in marketing and international business. She is a Retail Account Manager for DuPont Crop Protection in southern Wisconsin where she supports ag retailers, Pioneer agents and farmers with crop protection management.