Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Power of Being Lead

Over the past several months I’ve made an interesting observation. My children may be watching television or some other mindless activity. On such occasions, the motivation emerges within me to help engage them in some mind-stimulating activity or at least something that will cause them to exert some physical energy. I can say to one of my children, “Hey, you wanna do a puzzle?” The almost immediate response will be “no.” I can follow that up with something like, “How about we build something?” The response? “No.” I can go through a litany of options, “A bike ride?” “Too hot.” You get the picture. Of course there are some wild cards. Chuck E Cheese’s always gets a thumbs up. However, often the end result is potential discouragement or frustration.

Here’s where the interesting observation comes in.

On a given day, my children could be engrossed in a movie of some sort. I can nonchalantly walk through the room, grab the youngest child, put them on my lap, spread a box of puzzle pieces on the floor... and within seconds. The couch is empty, the movie is mere background noise and I have kids all around me fighting over who gets the corner pieces. I can waltz through the room and say, “Oh... I’ll see you guys later... I’m gonna go for a bike ride around the block...” (pause)... and I have three kids begging to go with me. Did I mention the heat index is a hundred-and-eight? Suddenly, being hot is no longer a factor. Regardless of the activity, if I merely begin doing it, engaging it, etc - my children join me. Interesting!

It’s like they wanted to do something more active and engaging, they just didn’t know it! They needed to be lead. They needed to be shown. They needed to be engaged. I wonder if much of our parenting frustration is caused simply because we tell them what to do, but fail to show them how to do it? We ask them if they want to do something, when all they need is to be invited to join us.

Now, let’s turn the tables a bit.

How does this principle apply to our own spirituality? How often do we not want to do that which is most needed to do? Perhaps engaging some spiritual practice (Scripture, Prayer, Serving, Fasting, Giving, etc)... I’ve discovered, quite often we’re just like our children. One of the keys to spiritual maturity is being able to discern what we need and how to do something about it. Often, I’ve learned that if I simply begin engaging a practice or discipline, before long (like my children) I actually enjoy and find pleasure and benefit in doing it. I just need to be lead.

Often we spend too much time following our heart,
and not enough time
leading it

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