My oldest son, Jack, walks the line. Literally. When walking in the hall at school, he walks head down, eyes intently fixed on the straight line of tape marking the path he is to follow. A rule follower extreme, he doesn’t dare deviate. He loves routine; loves to know what lies ahead; and loves to know what is expected of him. He understands rules are meant to protect, and firmly believes as long as everybody plays by the rules, nobody gets hurt. He has great respect for those in authority, is loyal, trustworthy and responsible. Jack is a leader; a guardian and protector of truth, and safeguard of others. I love that about him.
My youngest son, Joseph, dances, skips, weaves, etc., the line. He is more of a fly by the seat of your pants kinda guy. Joe respects routines and rules, but is willing to bend them slightly if he feels the bend may be of benefit to him and/or others. When walking the hall at school, Joseph walks head held high and twisting side to side. He doesn’t want to miss a thing, and doesn’t want anyone else to miss out either. Quite perceptive, he often thinks outside the box and is comfortable in his own skin. Joe is a leader, an encourager, an idea generator, and an advocate for living life to the fullest. I love that about him.
These are my babies. Alike and different in so many ways, but neither of any less worth. I wouldn’t change a thing about them for the world. They have so much to offer and each lead in their own unique style. One is steeped in history, tradition and practice. The other always assessing and revamping. What a blessing it is to be their mom.
I believe leadership comes in many different shapes, forms, and sizes. We may not always identify with those leading or making the rules, but we hope they have our best interests in heart and mind when doing so. Teaching your adult self, much less your children, to submit to and respect authority can be tough. Sometimes we agree wholeheartedly, and have no problem following the leader. Other times, we scratch our heads, question, and wonder if there’s a better or more beneficial way. What’s more, whether we choose to agree or to question, we too are each leaders in our own right. So, how do we even begin to know what’s correct? And, what will we tell the children?
It was a tough decision, but one bathed in prayer, faith and tears. Todd and I had to decide what was best...to agree wholeheartedly, or scratch our heads and question? To walk the line, or to weave? Either way there would be repercussions. And, either way we would lead in our own right. Two months of research and an aching desperation for divine, shouted instruction from above finally gave way to a peaceful, gentle answer.
Don’t forsake who made you or what and who I’ve called you to be.
For I created your inmost being; and I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made….by Me. (–Psalm 139:13-14)
But Lord, what will we tell the children?
Todd and I repeatedly asked this question...of Him...of ourselves. Do we tell our boys to stand up and challenge authority, or to follow the rules at all times no matter the cost? Does it always have to be one way or another? And, is one any better than the other? Can we teach ourselves (and them) to be submissive without compromise; to live in unity without conformity? How does one learn when to bend, and when to follow? Or know when to hold ‘em? When to fold ‘em? When to walk away, and when to run? (Thank you, Kenny Rogers.) Is it possible to agree to disagree, yet celebrate our differences and unite? The questions rolled over and over in our heads so much we felt like we were on a non-stop Tilt-A-Whirl. And, quite frankly I just wanted to get off before I chucked my dinner.
So, what will we tell the children?
We will tell them that their dad and their mom matter...that they themselves matter...that we all matter. And, that each one of us together and separate, alike and different in many ways, can make a difference for the Kingdom of God if we only choose to do so. For we are all, each one, fearfully and wonderfully made.
We will tell that life is full of hard decisions and…easy ones. And, that we serve a God who helps us make both. That sometimes submission and respecting the rules looks more like sacrifice than conformity. And, that sacrifice at the feet of Jesus is always more important than forsaking your call.
We will tell them that division is just as much an option as unity. And, while we may disagree with others, we can do so respectfully and prayerfully...trusting our path to God’s divine leading and healing.
We will tell them that we don’t know all the answers, but we know the One who does. And, we will tell them that we are not perfect. But, we serve a God who loves and forgives despite our sins, imperfections and missteps.
What will we tell the children?
We will tell them of Him and His love for us.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6