In “Lincoln,” the award-winning recent movie, President Lincoln verbally spars with U.S. Representative Thaddeus Stevens, idealistic but lacking in practicality. Both want to abolish slavery. But Lincoln believes Stevens’ bullheaded way will backfire. He pointedly tells Stevens that a compass will point you to true north. But it won’t show you the swamps in between, and if you plunge ahead recklessly you will sink in the swamps and never reach your destination.
Lions, we know where we want to go, where we want to be. We want to serve. But to be as effective as we can be we can’t rush forward without planning and preparation. We need to be intentional. We need to map out our path. We need to not just assume our clubs will thrive but take steps to ensure that outcome.
The four “pit stops” I encouraged clubs to take is a proven way to keep clubs strong. Periodically assess your needs, set goals and evaluate your progress. I hope clubs continue this process next Lions year and beyond.
Also embrace social media. Admittedly, I’m part of the generation considered to be behind the curve when it comes to cutting-edge communications. I may never quite catch up to my children and grandchildren, but I am the first international president to have his own Facebook page. I’ve enjoyed many informative interactions with Lions through Facebook.
Lions Clubs International recently surveyed Lions on social media use: more and more Lions are using Facebook and Twitter to connect with one another and to publicize their service. But we need to increase our use of these communication tools. We live in a digital world, and Lions, who always have prided themselves on being part of their communities, must be fully engaged with their communities in every way possible including social media. We belong in the mainstream, and today the flow of communication travels down the digital highway.
Maybe years ago we gathered on front porches and in backyards to meet our neighbors and build relationships. Let’s still do that. But let’s also often talk and share information online to tighten bonds among Lions and to let the wider community know we are here and how important we are. Communication builds community. In a World of Service, we can increase the scope and reach of our clubs by fully embracing the digital world.
Wayne A. Madden
Lions Clubs International President
On average, the LCIF SightFirst initiative requires a donation of only US$6 to save a person from blindness – or restore their sight.