“The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being.”
St. Pope John Paul II
After 13 years of parenting, I have learned that if you don’t like the sound of your own voice, you shouldn’t be a parent. Not only are you constantly providing instructions, but you are repeating the same words day after day. Sometimes it’s the same directions to different children in the same moment. I have written once before about our pet bearded dragon. During a moment of emotional instability this December, a crazy version of myself decided to bring home yet a second bearded dragon, despite knowing that I was the only one caring for the first one. Day after day, I am reminding the children to give these poor creatures water. I am requesting the tank to be cleaned. By the grace the God and solely my effort do these reptiles continue to exist. At some point I had had enough. I decided that I would not fill the water bowl for three days and if the older girls did not attend to their lizards, I would find said lizards a new home. Sure enough, three days later I announced to Annie and Katie that I would be taking the lizards to a "farm" where someone would love them. Par for their personalities, Annie immediately rushed to fill the bowls with deep remorse. Katie wanted to fight. "That’s not fair! You didn’t tell us!" she exclaimed. "I wanted to give you the opportunity to show responsibility," I said in my most paternal tone. "Seems more like a test that you knew I would fail," Katie snarked back. She wasn’t wrong.
As I helped the girls clean the tank and continued my excellent parental practice of making bold proclamations followed by no action, I thought about Katie’s charge. How often in my relationships and leadership do I think I am giving people "opportunities" when really I am waiting for them to fail a test? It’s only an opportunity if I invest in the person’s success. If I don’t give them the "why" while expecting the "what," am I really hoping they succeed? Am I walking with them to understanding or just hoping they meet me at the destination?Yesterday’s Gospel shows us the gift we have in a Lord that walks with us and constantly reminds us of the ultimate ‘why’, while encouraging us with the ‘what’. What real opportunities will we give others this week? I’m grateful the Lord has more patience with my sins than I have with lizard tanks.