Wow, time certainly does fly. As I write this blog, I am reminded that Louie, my rescue pup and I, have been together for over four years. We have learned so much from each other and are both better for it. But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how tough it was to get this far.

Louie went from lock down at 8:30 p.m. in a cushiony, penned area in my bedroom to a fluffy royal bed, completely opened. He goes to bed on his own (still at 8:30 p.m.) and even if he wakes up before I do, he patiently waits for me to give the command, “Here.” Only then does he move off his bed.

While I have always been an early riser, it was an adjustment for me to get up, get dressed and get outside between 5:30 and 6:00 am… Now we do it every single morning, regardless of weather. And believe me, it’s not been easy with the kind of winter we’ve had!

He patiently sits as I fill up his food bowl and doesn’t move until I nod my head and say, “Go.” He walks by my side and rarely pulls and immediately sits prior to our walking across a busy street until I give the “Go” command. We’re still working on how he greets guests, but overall he has improved immensely.

So why such great improvement? Because I’ve poured energy into him; not for a few weeks—but for a solid four years. And I will continue to pour into him. I didn’t have to give him so much time and love. He probably would have been an average dog without any training or time. But I chose to pour into him with no real “return on investment” and certainly no guarantee that he would be worth my time.

These last few years have brought out the best in Louie. His trainer poured into us and now Louie’s true character and behavior has been given an opportunity to develop. No doubt, he is a much happier pup.

The significance of pouring energy into others is equally important for leaders. We can’t expect to hand over a manual, put the new team members through orientation, and check in with them occasionally. It takes consistent time and energy to bring out the best in people.

I am thankful for those along my journey who have poured into me. They didn’t need to, they chose to with no guarantees that it would work. I know many leaders who “mentor” others but there is always some sort of return for them. Rarely is it to make a difference in that person’s life—they are too busy for that.

I’ve had two mentors who made a difference in my life—I would not be the woman I am today without their love, time, wisdom, and accountability. They had nothing to gain by spending so much time with me, yet they did. Kathryn Rose Norman walked with me on my spiritual journey when no one else was willing (I was a lot like Louie; a little rough around the edges). She introduced me to Lynne Ruhl who also poured into me for more than a decade and continues to do so. Thank you seems so insignificant for what they did for me. I’m a lot like Louie in that I will seek to demonstrate my gratitude for a long time to come!

Their investment in me has inspired me to invest in others. I rarely refuse to spend time with those who may need some guidance or encouragement, although I have nothing obvious to gain. I maintain healthy boundaries, but I always welcome an opportunity to invest in another’s life. Though I may not see an earthly “return,” in God’s economy, I am always richly blessed!

Now if I can just get Louie to stop using his big mouth (literally) when he plays and roughhouses! While I’m glad he’s playing, it’s clear we have more work to do—and that’s just fine by me.

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