“I’m going to travel and explore the world after I graduate from high school.”
My youngest son stated this calmly in response to an adult’s inquiry about what he had planned after graduation in 2018. I had heard it before and, like me, this relative stranger chuckled and said, “How do you plan to do that?” I wish I had answered differently the first time and every time one of my sons shared his dreams with me.
I recently attended The Global Leadership Summit produced by Willow Creek Association. Every year is “the best” and I would highly recommend it. Even if you aren’t a leader in the workplace, all parents are leaders and the information gained during these conferences can literally change lives. One of the speakers was Andy Stanley, named as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Pastors in America by Outreach Magazine. He had a lot of great information to share, but the thing that hit me like a 2×4 was his admonition to change our “how?” to “wow!” in response to ideas that people under our leadership share with us.
Replace HOW? with WOW!
Seems simple enough. Not!
As a parent, I often feel I have the mantle of responsibility to point out all the mature, responsible considerations of an idea. The grand plans and dreams of a three-year-old to become an astronaut or hunt a lion are fine to encourage with a smile and a costume, but an almost-grown man cub? I’ve got to set him straight!
When I consider the dreams I had as a young person, I bet they sounded ridiculously irresponsible to some adults. I was a planner and highly responsible in my own mind, but looking back I made some pretty poor decisions and never really pursued those dreams in concrete ways. Sure, I went to college and eventually found my way to a career I love, but along the way there were dreams to pursue that I did not even put on the drawing board to be considered as wow! material. It was a different time, a different culture, and a different world for young women back then. I’ll always wonder if things would have been different if I had been given a “wow!” rather than a “how?”
We adults think we have it all figured out. We know that to get from here to there, you’ve got to take certain steps, be responsible, take actions that are planned and calculated to achieve our goals. But who is my leader? Is it the world’s systems and institutions or is it the Lord Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Alpha and Omega, the One through which I can do all things?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
What if the Lord has a plan for my son in his travels that will save someone’s life, or bring my son into a closer relationship with Jesus that he would have never had if he had travelled the typical path? What if there is a path that is terrifying and fraught with danger and difficulty and struggle that Jesus needs my son on to fulfill his purpose? Who am I to stand in the way of the Lord’s plans for him?
This is what I wish I had said to my son the first time he shared his idea: “Wow! That sounds pretty exciting. Tell me more about your ideas…what are you dreaming about? Is there anything I can do to help you achieve your dream?”
The great thing is that it’s never too late to trust the Lord with all my heart and not depend on my own understanding. I do acknowledge Jesus as the One that I trust…with my dreams and with my son’s dreams…and in that trust I believe that He will lead us both on paths exactly where we’re meant to be, to grow us into who we’re meant to be, and to share His love with everyone we meet on those paths.
Lord, you are the dream maker. You set eternity in our hearts and a longing in our souls for You. Help us to encourage those dreams and trust You to show us the paths to follow as we seek Your wisdom and trust in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.