The Great Oak Tree….A Parable

9.11.18 The Great Oak Tree

There once was a great oak tree that stood tall and mighty. It was strong and proud. It commanded attention as it shaded the landscape around it, while holding birds’ nests and squirrels in its branches. Anyone looking at it could see how majestic it was. 

One year, a drought came on the land where the majestic oak grew. Its leaves shriveled. The tree couldn’t produce acorns as before. It could no longer shade the landscape. The birds were no longer hidden and the squirrels didn’t find the acorns they counted on for food. 

The majestic oak tree, who believed it was independent and didn’t need other resources, found that it needed many things outside of itself to survive and thrive. It needed the sunlight to make food. It needed rain to have water for its very existence. It needed the nutrients in the soil to stay healthy and produce a good crop of acorns. 

I heard this story eighteen years ago. It was told to my husband as he struggled to recover from life-threatening injuries in an auto accident that nearly took his life. 

Strong and Independent 

Along with the physical struggles of learning to walk again and find a way to eat with two broken jaws, he faced the emotional and mental struggle of relying on others for almost everything in his life. The strong, independent man he had always been was down for the count at that point. 

He had to let others help him so he could recover. A wise physical therapist could see his mental/emotional struggle. She shared this story to help him see that we all rely on others, even if we aren’t aware of it. 

I’m happy to say he has recovered and lives a full life today. He’s more aware of how others contribute to his life and how he contributes to the lives of others. 

Created for Community 

How about you? Are you aware of the contributions others make to your life? Are you intentional about the contributions you make the lives of others? 

The older I get, the more I realize…. and appreciate…. our interconnectedness. None of us is an island. We need each other. We are created for community. My weaknesses allow your strengths to shine. In my strengths, I compensate for your weaknesses. 


Awareness of your strengths and gifts is important for your tribe. As a tribe member, it’s important to contribute at your highest level. Generously providing your strengths and gifts to the tribe benefits the others just as you benefit from their gifts and strengths. 


Think of it this way. In your areas of strength, you are a leader of the tribe. In your areas of weakness, you are led by others. It’s a reciprocal relationship that provides the biggest and best outcome for everyone in the tribe. 

A Word About Tribes

Some people see the word tribe as a negative – looking at a tribe as a source of tribalism – excluding and looking down on others. I use the word tribe for a group of people who come together to support each other and contribute to the greater good of society.

What’s your contribution to your tribe? How do you serve the members of your tribe with generosity?

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