Many of you who know me, know that I waver between boringly predictable, and breathlessly unpredictable.
And then I have a great love to peel apart complex systems and research deeply and methodically. This post that follows, while not the most meticulously-researched, does hold a special place for me, because many of the things that follow remind me of qualities that I find in my wife.
The Redemptive Gifts of Romans 12:6-8, seem to find reflection in all that is. In people, in cities, in land, and in businesses. Every entity has a flavor that manifests, and many if not all of these seem to resemble the sense or aroma of one of these Seven Gifts.
It is my intent in the above paragraphs to give food for thought and not make a didactic pronouncement for the sake of my more cautious and methodical readers who may treat stronger language as a turn-off.
While perusing Facebook, I came across a comment from Bryan Trapp in response to my distinct love for Birkenstock sandals that resonated well with me. The comment related that the DNA of Birkenstock’s culture as a business most readily mirrors someone with the Redemptive Gift of Servant.
Now, I knew nothing about Birkenstock’s history until tonight when I did a little researching.
Here are some quotes from the Wikipedia article:
“The Birkenstock brand traces its roots to Johann Adam Birkenstock, registered in 1774 as a “vassal and shoemaker” in local church archives in the small Hessian village of Langen-Bergheim. In 1896, Johann’s great-great-grandson Konrad Birkenstock developed the first contoured insole for use by shoemakers in the production of custom footwear. Also in the year 1896 Karl opened two shoe stores in Frankfurt, Germany where he continued to make and sell his insoles.
1902 saw the development of the first flexible arch-support for insertion into factory-made shoes; and in 1964, Karl Birkenstock developed these inserts into a shoe — thus producing the original prototype of the Birkenstock sandal. In 1925 Konrad Birkenstock expanded the company by buying a large factory in Friedberg, Hesse. After World War II (1939-1945) the Birkenstock sandal was popular among returning soldiers because of the orthopedic support. Starting in 1963 and continuing into 1964 Karl Birkenstock released his first athletic sandal with a flexible footbed called, Madrid. It soon became an icon especially among gymnasts.
In 1966 Birkenstocks were introduced in the United States, as well as elsewhere. American, Margot Fraser “discovered” Birkenstock sandals while visiting a spa in Germany. She gained relief from a foot condition, and founded a trading company called Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, Inc., in Novato, California, based on her enthusiasm for the sandals
List of observations:
-The founder was a vassal, one who pledged loyalty to a lord in Europe. A servant.
-Langen-Bergheim was located in the German State of Hesse. Hesse is notable for contributing Hessians to fight for the English in the American Revolution. These soldiers, known for their strong military performance, were distrusted by the English who forced them to fight, treated with contempt by the Americans against whom they fought.
-Birkestock furthered their influence in the Hessian region by building a factory in that same region.
-Footwear, as a general rule, provides comfort for the feet, similar to the way Servants help others by providing a place of comfort and rest.
-Birkenstock gained recognition in the United States because the American founder of the US variant of Birkenstock gains relief from a foot condition.
-They were popular among soldiers returning from World War II because of the orthopedic support.
Also, consider the following observations, courtesy of Mr. Trapp:
-They are quite plain, shunning fashion.
-They are worn often by people who look for a simpler no-frills form of footwear.
-They are not really a fashion statement.
-They are often worn by those who are on a spiritual journey or a quest of purification.
All of these qualities are quite typical of servants, who love purity, enjoy simplified living, provide comfort, help relieve those who are hurting, are quite adept at dealing with prickly people, and provide a critical resource or relief without standing out. My bride is all of the above. And, it seems, this company manifests many of the best of those qualities.
What are your thoughts?