“Youth is for taking risks, good risks, risks full of hope. It is meant to be staked on great things. Youth is meant to be given away, to help others to know the Lord. Don’t keep your youth to yourselves: get out there!”

– Pope Francis

The process of teaching our eldest to drive started out much slower than a school zone speed limit. Parking lot exercises didn’t seem to be cutting it, and there was no way Annie was ready for the road. She had no confidence and didn’t understand why any other cars had to be driving while she was. We finally convinced her to try the road early on a Sunday morning when traffic was light and the destination had minimal turns. She did well, felt confident, and was ready for another spin at the wheel. One small errand after another, and soon, Annie was looking forward to the big exam in the coming weeks.

When I’m not traveling, I take the kids to school. My wife suggested that perhaps Annie should drive one day. Annie and I both turned around gawking at her mother with the same look of shock and horror. “You mean with the other kids in the car?” Annie asked in panic. I had the same clarifying question. “Yes,” my wife confirmed. As we all buckled in, I threatened her siblings that if they but breathed loudly while she drove, they would be grounded. Other than my calm, yet terrified, subtle coaching, we drove in silence to Annie’s school. Upon arrival, our new driver departed the car and I got in the driver’s seat. As I said a quiet prayer of thanks to God, my youngest asked sheepishly, “It is it over Daddy?”

Later that day, Catholic Leadership Institute was hosting a virtual symposium on engaging more of the younger generations in leadership of our parishes. One young man in his thirties confessed that he felt like in his community, the older parishioners didn’t trust him or his peers to take on the mantle of leadership. “It’s like they think we are going to crash the car.” Usually, I’d be quick to side with my fellow Millennial, however I couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy for the older parishioners, given my morning commute. I was all about Annie logging hours until something was at stake. A fender bender was one thing. But risking the precious cargo of her siblings! Suddenly the reality of that risk was too much for me.

As I continued to listen to the conversation, I couldn’t help but reflect on other areas of life and leadership where I am eager to engage or invest, provided there’s no risk. How often do I say I want something without being willing to consider the sacrifice it will require? Whether in our parishes or our Honda Pilots, if we want our youth to drive, are we willing and able to be passengers? In my drive with the Lord, do I really trust Him to take the wheel?

After a week of driving together, the younger kids are now allowed to talk at a reasonable volume while Annie keeps her eyes on the road – but music is still off the table. As we desire our young people to take greater responsibility in our Church, let’s be ready to coach them from the passenger seat and trust them with our treasures. Prayers for safe adventures this week.

by Daniel Cellucci

May 27, 2024

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