Who Taught Who?

img267Dear Servant Leader,

It’s just not possible. Our son, Andrew, has graduated from High School. Of course, we couldn’t be more proud, watching him accept his diploma with NHS Honors, Arizona Scholars, straight A’s (He finished AP Chem with a 100% – not completely sure he has my DNA)! Please, forgive me. I am just plain bragging on my boy. Most important is knowing that his relationship with Christ and witness for Him was solid through all the temptations and trials that come with High School. As for his future, he is off to study Church Music with emphasis in Worship this fall at Azusa Pacific University. So, as I take a moment for reflection, actually, as I have done so over the last few months, I have to ask, “Who taught who?”

Whether as a parent, ministry leader, Christian business owner, etc. you have to be honest about the fact that you learn so much from those you are leading… at least, if you are any kind of leader. I know I feel this way about Andrew. We were relatively young when he was born and he came along  just a year and two months after we were married. We were still very much discovering who we were in Christ and what His will for our life and ministry would be. Fast-forward through what now seems but a few moments and we are about to become somewhat young-ish “empty nesters.” As I reflect over the years it is amazing to me how much I learned about the Lord, parenting, marriage, ministry, and myself through the privilege (trial and a lot of error!) of being Andrew’s Dad. Wow – what a patient and gracious young man he has been! Which is where the leader lesson for this post comes in… 

What are you learning from those you are leading? You do realize that God has uniquely placed your “followers” not merely to learn and grow from your ample wisdom… but also the other way around? Your weaknesses are their strengths. Your lacks are their supply. Your oversights, their perceptions. Your misteps, their graceful dances.

My challenge to you would be to take a little time, get out the old “yellow pad” and make a list of those in your lead team and/or circle of influence. Next to each name, write at least one thing you have and/or are learning from them. If nothing comes to mind, then take it as an even greater challenge. For only the bravest of leaders I would further challenge you to then strategically reveal this to each one, maybe at a regular meeting and/or retreat. Perhaps this could be an exercise all could share in advance? Who knows what the Spirit of God may be waiting to reveal through such a transparent and humbling experience. Something tells me all will be better for it and the ministry you are leading richer still.

Thankfully, we have been assured that parenting doesn’t end at High School graduation. We have had plenty of friends remind us that kids have a way of coming back around. For us, we can’t wait for his first trip home from college, and he hasn’t even left yet! Pray for us, we honestly don’t know what we are going to do with ourselves! For now, Andrew leaves for a well-deserved trip to Florida with his college roommate and best-bud John and his family, then off to the Grandparents to get spoiled for a couple of weeks. Again, well-earned. However, not merely for his hard work as a student, but for teaching his Dad more than he’ll ever know.

Still learning,

Tom

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