In Dante's Divine Comedy, in Canto III, Dante is guided by Virgil, the Roman poet of antiquity, to the gates of Hell. The first beings they meet on this perilous journey are a group of lost souls called the "Drearies," who linger around Hell's gate. As Dante writes, they are "those who lived without blame or praise." Author Thomas Cahill calls them "whining wraiths who never truly lived at all, the lukewarm, who are 'as hateful to God as to his enemies,' the people no one claims."
To me the Drearies are the very opposite of leaders. They lived on earth for a number of years, ate food, labored at things, and then died. Their lives are entirely forgotten because they stood for nothing, fought for nothing, risked nothing, attempted nothing, and died as nothings. And, at least in Dante's imagination, their eternal life will be comprised of endlessly more of the same.
Leaders are passionate beings. They attack the status quo, sometimes at great peril to their own peace and well-being. But leaders can do no less. They live while they are alive. Their internal light shines bright for accomplishment, contribution, service, impact, making a difference, and leaving a legacy. Leaders burn with a purpose to fulfill and never feel quite right when not in alignment with that purpose.
Tragically, though, many people fall into the trap of the Drearies. They don't do much wrong, but they don't do much right either. In fact, they don't do much at all. And if they do, they simply dabble. Pastor Robert L. Dickie was given some advice early in his ministry from an experienced and stately gentleman: "Don't be a dabbler." He says that thought always stuck with him and has served to keep him focused on his biggest priorities.
Why are so many people complacent? Why do so many dabble? Why do so many frit away their days in nothingness and wake up at the end of it all and wonder, "what if?" I wish I had the answers to these and all similar questions. But I do know that life lived fully is better than life simply lived out. We shouldn't tip-toe through life trying to get to death safely. We should stand and make a difference with the gifts God has given us. Through prayer, counsel, scripture, dream-building, service to others, and meditation, we should search for our life's purpose and then chase after it with everything we've got. You will never regret the time you spent giving your all to a worthy purpose.
So find it.
Give to it.