Not a Life Jacket Moment

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“Don’t throw life jackets to people that God is trying to teach to swim” Orrin Woodward. Orrin is a leadership expert, motivational speaker and community leader.

You may need to read that line a couple of times to get what he was putting out there for us. I know that I did!

This morning as I was listening to a leadership audio by Marc and Kristine Militello, teachers, business owners and speakers, I not only heard that quote, but was also rocked a bit by some of the other information they shared.

Had I been asked yesterday how I felt we were doing raising our children as leaders, my answer would have been different than it is today. I believe that I would have confidently said that we were doing all that we could. I probably would’ve said that we were on track. I think I would’ve felt certain that there wasn’t much more that Ken and I could do as parents to steer our children to be leaders than what we were currently doing.

It’s funny what a little bit of new information does to one’s opinion.

Now I know some people feel that listening to positive motivational educational audios and attending seminars and conferences are not necessary. I know that one may think that the information there is just common sense and we all should know it and of course we should already be applying it. I am aware that some people consider it to be brainwashing.

I don’t know about you, but often times I certainly need brainwashed! Scrub out the negative and scour the stubborn stiff-necked concepts creating a new fresh mind open to possibilities.

It completely blows my mind how there’s still so much to learn. Because I am an avid learner I am excited that there’s always something more to learn; but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still get blindsided by things that I should probably already know and be implementing.

Well, let me tell you, today, the audio I mentioned earlier was an eye opener!

What’s even more amazing was how it played out letting me see it in action.

See, we are incredibly blessed with our son Michael. He isn’t the average 15-year-old boy, by any sense of the word. He showers and uses soap (without threats), uses manners, does chores, all sorts of other miraculous things that we are so very thankful for.

This being said, he is a 15-year-old boy, he isn’t perfect. As we were well on our way to see his sister (who lives hours away), I happened to mention how we would need to make sure our jackets were accessible. It was at this point that we learned that Michael hadn’t brought a jacket. In that moment, my first reaction was feeling bad, because I had IMG_1702not reminded him to bring one. (See, there I am, ready with the life jacket) It was at that moment I recalled one of the stories that Kristine had given in the CD. She had explained about a mom who had brought a teenager to softball. Upon arriving at softball, they learned that the teenager had forgotten to bring her catchers gear. Instead of the mom dropping everything to race back home to get the gear to bring it back, she shrugged and told the girl that she would need to just borrow someone else’s. Kristine spoke about the fact that some of the other parents thought that that was wrong. Then Kristine complimented the mom, saying how it made her realize that the girl would never again forget her gear. How it was such a teachable moment.

The thought came into my mind, that one day my little boy will be off in college, off playing in the big leagues, getting married, many different scenarios where I am sure he’s not going to want his mama reminding him what he needs to take. As hard as it is to be a parent and stand off to the side and not solve the problems, I think the reminder is that sometimes it takes actually having to flail around in the water before one can learn to swim.

This doesn’t just relate to our children, it relates to ourselves, and to everyone that we have contact and association with. I am not saying that it’s right to never help anyone. That certainly isn’t what I mean to imply.

What I am trying to convey, is sometimes we need to let people learn to swim. I think for myself that I often jump into the fix-it mode for everyone and coddle and take care of them and don’t allow people to seek God themselves, to seek a solution themselves. My IMG_1698nature is to be a mom to everyone, I’m the one who’s there with all the answers always ready to jump in pull up my sleeves and go to work. Listening to the different points on that CD, learning from the other leadership books that I read, has helped me to be able to see that instead of strengthening others it actually causes more dependency. I need to become more of a cheerleader at times; encouraging and allowing others to solve their own problems.

Obviously for Michael, he was without a jacket while we were gone. Luckily for him it wasn’t that cold, but I’m sure that the next time, he will think and bring a jacket!

The second incident that I was presented with was one in which someone had made a commitment to me, and then I learned that they were considering changing what they committed to. Again, in the past I would have just scrambled around to ‘solve the issue’. (Here’s your life jacket) Instead, I reminded them of their obligation and continued on with the original commitment. I knew that they would feel pressure, but I also knew that they would be able to solve their situation by not allowing the circumstances to change their direction.

I was proud that they stuck to it and followed through. Their integrity remained intact and their mission was completed.

Often times our victory is just on the other side of inconvenience.

But how will we ever achieve that victory if someone is standing there on the shore – throwing us that life jacket instead of allowing God to move in our lives, teaching us how to swim?

I know the two little instances I share don’t seem like big ‘God – sized’ situations, but remember, it’s easier to learn to swim in a calm pool than a stormy ocean.

How about you? Have you ever had someone jump in and save you when you wish you could have just had the chance to figure it out on your own?

Have you ever been the one that was throwing out the life jacket to another?

Would you share a time that you didn’t receive a life jacket, and how you grew and came through the challenge without it?

Just keep swimming, Amy


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