He planted a tree...
Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. - Warren Buffet
Regardless of whether you've ever read the bible or not most of you will have heard of a guy called Abraham. For someone that's commonly referred to as the father of faith, (Judaism, Christianity & Islam,) it's a little confusing how his story can fit on just a handful of pages. And as a key figure in the biblical narrative that has such limited real estate, you might think that only the most critical details would make the cut. But, Genesis 21:33 says...
“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.”
He planted a tree.
Why? Abraham is a nomad (a desert wanderer) who's had some mystical experiences with a God, a God who had told him to pack up and leave, to go. And so he's been wandering, but this verse is the moment where Abrahams story slows down because it looks like he could be staying here a while, it seems like he's arrived, this might just be the place of promise.
And so he plants a tamarisk tree.
Why? Tamarisk tree's, provide a considerable amount of shade and due to a process sometimes referred to as salting it's unusually cool shade. Perfect for the desert right? Off course, you'd plant a tree like that if you were going to settle down in an environment like that.
But what makes this line so interesting is the speed that tamarisk trees grow...
So slowly that it's painful to think about if you need shade.
In fact, they grow so slowly that a tree planted today won't become mature for a generation or two.
And so hopefully, with Warren Buffets words still floating around between your ears, you can see where I'm going with Abraham's tree. If you have any influence or power, this curious line asks you to plant some metaphorical tamarisk trees, regardless of whether you'll ever get to sit in their shade.
If you're in a position of leadership, Abraham's stewardship calls you to serve others. It urges you to be forward thinking. It warns against only seeking easy wins and immediate gratification because true leadership is about the long game. It's about people that don't even exist yet.
So, as you work out how to best use the power and influence you have in the world...
May you be grateful for the trees you already sit under while also being mindful of the places that need some shade.