I can’t even contemplate leadership without thinking about how my Heavenly Father leads me. As a follower of Christ, underpinning everything good I’ve ever learned about leadership (in my home and the marketplace) is a distinctive and often misunderstood concept. The concept of grace!
I love Max Lucado’s word picture, “Grace is God as a heart surgeon, cracking open your chest, removing your heart – poisoned as it is with pride and pain – and replacing it with his own.”
With kids…the WHAT isn’t a matter of IF – it’s a matter of WHEN.
And the WHEN is rarely convenient.
September 2, 2014 about 20 minutes after midnight. It was my wife’s Second night home after major surgery and I’d been asleep for 15 minutes.
My youngest son came into our room, woke me, and announced, “Dad I feel like I might get sick.”
Normally my son lingers at my bedside until I wake up and offer instructions. For nightmares, it’s usually, “Go climb back in bed and I’ll lie with you for a few minutes.” For headaches it’s, “Meet me in the bathroom and I’ll give you some Motrin.” For, “I feel sick,” I usually ask a series of questions and conclude he just ate too much before bedtime.
On this night, my son merely turned and scurried away. As he hit the hallway I heard that awful sound we all dread as parents. That deep convulsion from within followed by a grand release, and then a ceremonial splash. Not once. But twice. (My wife later informed me there was actually a third which I blocked from my memory).
American’s fall in and out of “love” faster than changes to our Facebook news feeds. And we “love” everything: sit coms, celebrities, salty snacks, smart phones, and all things shiny. But our love is fickle. One day we’re in love. The next day we’re out.
Recently my boys fell in love with golf. The catalytic event was a night at Top Golf – the cosmic bowling of golf. Pop music, elevated tee boxes, automated scoring, illuminated targets, tee-side table service…even injectable donut holes (the raspberry filling is best). From that night until today, they can’t stop talking about it. And who can blame them. Top Golf is the “Shiny Penny” of golf.
I try to stay relevant to my kids. Candidly, I sometimes wonder if I should give up. Maybe it’s best to simply be branded out of touch or irrelevant. But something in me wants to make the effort.
I listen to their music, watch their shows, and interact with their friends (usually at the dinner table or “dance parties” we have while driving). I’ve even taken up posting, texting, tweeting, and pinning. When in Rome!
This week, I resorted to eavesdropping. I know, in the era of WikiLeaks and NSA scandals, spying on my kids is lame. But I couldn’t resist. As I was chauffeuring a carload of kids to the water park, I heard my niece and her friend discussing their fan base. The numbers were staggering – 40,000 each.
I set out early Wednesday morning with the boys to go fishing at Ponto Beach. I didn’t plan on them getting caught up in a ripcurrent. But sometimes life isn’t what we expect.
I love to fish. I learned when I was young. My grandparents had a cabin in Northern Arizona and we’d fish nearby lakes. My dad, my grandpa and me! I learned from these two men and one of my favorite fishing memories still today – was an experience with them 35 years ago.
I was about 8. The 3 of us stood on the shore of Lake Mary when a fish jumped 25 yards out. It was a big one and my line wasn’t in the water. My dad said, “Here let me have that!” I handed him my rod. He cast it to where the fish jumped and it immediately bit. My dad set the hook, handed me the rod, and I reeled in a beautiful Northern Pike. It was the biggest fish we ever caught in those waters. My dad would humbly tell you he’s not much of a fisherman – but that day I was in awe of him!
It was in that moment I got caught up in fishing.
Utter the word “school bus” and for anyone who’s ridden one…every sense instantly engages! As an Arizona native the word resurrects scorching hot seats, sweaty legs, melted gum, foul odors, gruff drivers, screaming kids, bad language and more. In today’s therapeutic environment, most bus riders would be diagnosed with at least mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For me the bus was so unsavory that after a few early morning misadventures, I rode my bike to school for nearly a decade.
Fast forward from the 1970’s to 2006. In the 35 years since I’d last boarded a school bus, I assumed there would’ve been some advances. Nope!
My oldest son was 5 and my wife and I thought the one-mile ride to his first day of Kindergarten would be good for his self-esteem. A character-building adventure! We were sorely mistaken.
Like lambs to the slaughter we headed off to the bus stop.
Intellectually, I love roller coasters. In reality, I hate them. What I like are theme parks. Disneyland, for example, is awesome! I enjoy every ride in the park. Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and The Matterhorn are all great.
However, crossing the walkway to Disney California – well the thought of it makes me nauseous. That park contains disorienting rides. And the truth is I don’t like to be disoriented.
The last time I attempted a sequence of disorienting rides was at the Arizona State Fair (circa 1986). I rode a half-dozen “G-Force” rides culminating with me lying in the grass near the food court while my friends traded adventure stories. I roused myself to join in but simply threw up on the stuffed bear Kerwin had won after we left the Tilt-A-Whirl. Sorry Kerwin!
Tuesday as I dressed for work, my wife and boys piled into the car only to discover it wouldn’t start. As I studied the scene in my underwear, I concluded it was a dead battery. Our plan was simple. I’d jump the battery, my wife would drop the boys at school and I’d meet her at Auto Zone to replace the battery. Disaster averted!
The plan began just fine. I jumped the car, unhooked the cables and finish getting dressed – letting the car run to recharge the battery. Moments later, my youngest son ran into our bedroom out of breath – “DAD…THE CAR’S ON FIRE!”
As parents we often wonder what’s going on inside our kids heads and hearts. Our kids’ psyche is an elusive thing. We desperately want to know who they “really” are. So – like wildlife photographers seeking to capture an endangered species – we lie in wait to “catch a glimpse” of our kids. Hoping they’ll emerge from their emotional dens for us to snap a photo.
Recently we were driving from Phoenix to Colorado for a family ski trip. At the 6 1/2 hour mark we were all stir crazy. We’d been arguing over “road trip bingo.” For the record, I don’t know why I decided, “the large puddle couldn’t qualify as a small lake.” Terrible judgment on my part! The problem with having 2 kids is the moment I side with one – I’m apparently conspiring against the other. In retrospect we should have had 3 kids. Anyways, our car grew silent.
Then it happened. I caught a glimpse of my youngest son’s heart.
Teaching our kids to own their daily chores is somewhat akin to teaching a bear to ride a bicycle. It can be done…it just isn’t natural (thanks “sin nature” for making my kids lazy). Just remember…bears performing at the circus (aka the kids we’ll someday release to the world) look a whole lot better than the bears in training (I’m guessing here).
If I were being honest, I’d confess I’ve been trying to teach my kids to own their chores…for 3 years. Maybe I’m the problem! Perhaps I’m the bear wrestling with the tricycle and my boys are the trainers – futilely attempting to teach me a new parenting trick. It just takes kids so long to embrace their parents’ instructions. How many times did you tell your kids to say “please” and “thank you” before it became second nature? Five hundred? How about “brush your teeth” or “feed the dog!” A thousand? If my wife and I adhered to the “obey us the first time” or “I won’t repeat myself” philosophies, our kids would have no teeth and our dog would be dead.
Yesterday I had the day that bear trainers must dream about.