“Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God.”
This summer marked a long awaited milestone for my wife and me. We reached the point in our family where our schlepping stuff to the beach was reduced to that which only we wanted to schlepp, give or take a bag of snacks. Everyone else could carry their bucket or their towel or their boogie board. My new found freedom also translated to the waves, with the exception of the five-year-old. Norah was desperate to join her siblings beyond the breakers and I was desperate to just enjoy my break.
After persistent pleading from Norah, I finally agreed to accompany my youngest. Despite promises for calmer waters or offers to carry her beyond the breakers, Norah refused to move past the worst possible spot in the ocean. My purpose soon shifted from getting her to her desired destination to keeping her from getting destroyed by the surf. The next 30 minutes involved hoisting her solid toddler body above the water while simultaneously trying to maintain my balance and mitigate the amount of salt water going up my nose and in my mouth.
Norah’s loud cackles eventually gave way to her five-year-old attention span and she told me she had had enough. As she skipped back to her drippy sand castles, my oldest glided past me on her boogie board as I coughed up the remaining ocean water I had ingested. “You’re a good dad,” she said kindly. “Oh yeah, why’s that?” I asked, still catching my breath. “Because you didn’t bring her to where it would be easier for you. You stayed with her at the spot she couldn’t get past.”
As I dried off watching the kids dig a hole by the ocean, I thought about my eldest’s observation and how it might apply to other aspects of my life and leadership. While leadership involves bringing people to calmer waters, it also requires moving through often choppy seas. As a leader, do I get through the rough spots myself and wait for people to figure it out, or do I stand with them in the challenge and continue to lift them up so they can see the way through? Am I more concerned with my own discomfort and convenience, or their well being and growth? In the waters of faith, do I rely on the Lord to lift me up when I’m struggling to keep afloat or do I only see Him in the distance?
As our vacation continued, Norah’s confidence to move past the breakers grew and gratefully my saltwater intake decreased. As we continue to enjoy our summers, let’s be mindful of those who are stuck in some rough waters and do our best to lift them up
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