Cats & Other Annoyances: A Leadership Lesson

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My cat taught me a leadership lesson this weekend.  Since I’ve given her a really good life for nineteen years, I figure it’s about time she gave back, but it was not in a way I would have hoped.

For the past year, KaLeo (who was born in Hawaii, where this means “the voice,” because she’s really chatty) has become an alarm clock.  At around 5:30 a.m., she starts complaining that we are not up yet.  Mike gets up and pours her some milk and begins getting ready for work.  He leaves after 6 am, at which time she comes in and gets started on me.  She tries to pull down the covers with her claws, pats me on the face, and walks all over me, all the while meowing incessantly.  I finally succumb, rolling out of bed to give her water and food and open the blinds (so that she can have a sunbeam later).  By the time I exit the shower, she is already fast asleep in the guest room, her morning task of annoying me beyond measure accomplished.  Each day, I find her in the same spot when I return home nine hours later.  This has become our routine.

Sunday, Mike was out of town, so I was the object of her attention at 5:30 a.m.  She would not leave me alone for almost two hours, while I stubbornly refused to move from my bed.  I spanked her and tossed her from the bed, to which she immediately returned to continue the harassment.  Why do cats not understand weekends?  Finally, at 7:20 a.m., my alarm clock rang and I exited the bed.

Later, sitting in church, I was feeling a bit guilty for my reaction that morning.  God spoke to me in that moment.  “Maybe I wanted you up at 5:30 a.m.  Maybe I sent a cat to annoy you because you won’t get up on your own to be with me.”  That’s the truth.  I didn’t think God was awake at 5:30, let alone want me to be.  I apologized as best I could to KaLeo by giving her a lot of attention when I got home, and I apologized to God for not wanting to get up early enough to meet with him.

Monday morning, KaLeo waited until 6:30 to begin harassing me.  I looked at the alarm clock, wondering why it had not gone off at 6:20, then realized that I had forgotten to change it from Sunday’s wake-up time.  Had KaLeo not wakened me, I would have been late for work.  Yesterday’s annoyance was now today’s salvation.

What if we looked at all of the people in our lives like God wanted me to look at KaLeo?  What if, instead of reacting in anger or disappointment, we were thankful for their annoying behavior, because it brings us closer to God?  And, as communicators, how can we react positively to people who seem to be annoyances, but may actually be God’s messengers?  I have asked God for wisdom to be able to understand and persevere through “annoyances,” and to teach me to respond with joy.  I hope you will as well.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
                                                                         ~James 2-5