Iron Sharpens Iron
I can remember several instances where those of importance in my life whether it was parents, grandparents, or teachers had told me that “I need to choose my friends carefully” and had told me tales and stories of a person’s company landing them in trouble. In the bible, Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens the face his neighbor.” Over the past seven months, I have had the opportunity to be sharpened daily by five of my very best friends. Christian, Payton, Cecillia, Karli, and Kai have poured into me all in unique ways but made me better nonetheless.
Team dynamics, whether in sports, FFA events, or officer teams, often frustrate us. People get busy, falling short of expectations. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Balls are dropped more often than probably any of us would care to admit. Dropping the ball is the easy part, but who picks it up? Who is the individual so focused on serving others that no matter what they have going on they pick up the ball and their teammate when doing so? Within the state officer team, Christian stands out as a consistent, dependable servant. Despite a demanding schedule, he picks up dropped balls. Christian has sharpened and challenged me to look past frustration and to seek grace and understanding for my teammates’ situation. He has also shown me what it looks like to put your head down and get to work, no matter whose “job” it was in the beginning.
Tradition holds significant sway in my life, sometimes to a fault. I find joy in many of the same things I did in elementary school, part of my love for agriculture stems from it being a family tradition. I sought the opportunity to wear the blue corduroy jacket because my mom did before me. I am a sentimental person and have always found significance in traditions. However, I often find myself overlooking the value of change. Payton, my teammate for two years, challenges my attachment to the traditional and inspires change. Payton’s constant pursuit of new hobbies, plans, and experiences sharpened me and pushed me to embrace efficiency and welcome change for the progress it brings.
Never in my life have I been described as quiet, and like most who have never been described as quiet I have challenged myself to sit silently. Time after time a new exciting conversation has begun and my challenge ends. I have come to realize the focus on not talking is difficult, however deciding instead to focus on listening is much easier and offers a better result. By observing one of the best listeners I have ever met, Cecillia’s exceptional listening skills have taught me the power of intentional listening. Through this focus of understanding rather than speaking, she has shown me the art of making others feel special through careful attention to detail. Though I still consider it one of my greatest weaknesses Cecillia has sharpened me.
If I could describe the times we are, in just one word, I might use the word connect. As a society, we create and support connections rapidly. Yet at times, I find connections facilitated by social media aren’t as deep as a connection formed and fostered in person. Connecting takes hard work and effort, even more so when done on platforms where we only share such a small portion of our lives. I am grateful to have been able to watch someone who has sought connection fiercely. Karli is a connector who values genuine connections. Her dedication to fostering deep relationships, even at the sacrifice her own needs, has sharpened me and inspired me to prioritize fostering meaningful connections.
Studies done at Bielefeld University have proven that plants can duplicate energy from other plants near them. This study also applies to other living creatures, including humans. We match the energy of those around us. With that being said I have found the value in seeking a community that shows up with the kind of energy I want to duplicate. The type of energy that opens heavy eyelids and lifts falling moods. Over time with my teammates, I have had the opportunity to constantly feed off some of the most positive and contagious energy ever witnessed. Kai is an energizer. No matter the amount of sleep or food or many other outside forces, Kai’s resilience in maintaining high spirits, even in challenging circumstances, challenges me to be a creator and host of positive energy. Kai has sharpened me.
The past seven months have been transformative and the importance of choosing your circle wisely has become increasingly clear. Christian, Payton, Cecillia, Karli, and Kai have been instrumental in sharpening me through their unique contributions. They have challenged me to extend grace while serving eagerly, embrace change, listen intentionally, foster meaningful connections, and cultivate positive energy. My heart is full of gratitude for the lessons that have been poured into me by my teammates, directing my focus to areas that have led me to risk boldly, love better, and walk more authentically.
Kansas FFA it brings me so much joy to know I am not the only one who has received new advice, knowledge, and ideas from these five. Though it may go unnoticed it has been a beautiful gift to see the lives of the members of Kansas FFA be changed for the better because of my teammates. It is an honor to call them teammates and a joy to call them friends.
Kansas FFA, who is in your circle and sharpening your iron?