The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Being the Big Elephant Demands Some Giveback

On June 30th, 2014, posted in: Uncategorized by

Being the Big Elephant Demands Some GivebackI was in attendance to hear an accomplished leader (who happens to be a theologian) talk about an African proverb on elephants. I was also on the Internet watching a TED broadcast in which an ordained minister of a well-known church in southern California, Rick Warren, spoke about one of the most popular books ever that he happened to author.  “A Purpose Driven Life” – you may have heard of it. Both messages resonated with me and confirmed for me why I get up every day and make the trek to the Credit Union.

First the African proverb — told by the highly respected and talented Roslyn M. Brock, the national chairperson of the NAACP during an event in a St. Louis County hotel. It goes something like this:  Big elephants can cross the rushing river because of their size, their strength, their wisdom, their knowledge. They get to the other side with ease because they are powerful. They’ve achieved status – whatever that means in the elephant world, they have it. With that status comes benefits, with those benefits comes advantage. With that advantage comes success. Thus, they are on the other side of the river. Privilege is realized.

But what now?  The proverb goes on to convey how the privileges of being the big elephant demands some giveback. As a big elephant, you must return and help the little elephants to cross the river. Yes, I get it. If you’ve made it, give back.

Rick Warren had a lot to say with a biblical slant similar to the African proverb. He reminded us of God’s dealing with Moses. God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. “What is in your hand?”  God asked Moses. It was his staff. As a shepherd, a staff is of vital importance. His staff represented Moses’ identity, his income and his influence. Much like Moses was asked, “What do we have in our hand?”  What we do represents our identity and income, but most importantly, what we have allows for our influence.

SLCCU leadership has a credit union in our hands. Given to us by our members who have joined to be a part of cooperative strength. “People helping people” is what we have in our hands. We are full of services, products, convenience and believe in reserving judgment and helping people. We are about taking risks to make sure our influence helps all people that come in contact with us.

As I was exiting the meeting where I heard of the African proverb, someone walked up to me and said “you are a big elephant.”  “You” was used to describe St. Louis Community Credit Union. Yes, we are the big elephant. And yes, we reach back every day to help others cross the river. Our influence and our success demands that we help the little elephants of our community to make it across. We do that all day – every day.

What we value is much greater than our valuables. We have accumulated great resources over the years. Resources that belong to our members: capital, buildings, physical assets, a strong brand and an image and reputation for serving the community. What would be if we called it quits now? Successful, yes. A spirit of service to our fellow human beings, no.

Yes, SLCCU is the big elephant. Yes, we understand that our value is greater than our valuables. We’ve got more work to do to help people. We take that charge seriously.

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