I spend a lot of time in my car, so inevitably I listen to hours of radio. The other morning I was listening to a preacher and he was really doing well, talking about how children should respect their parents. “Amen, brother!”
I like it when preachers talk like that and especially when they say that my wife should do what I tell her.
But he began to talk about how children should listen to their parent’s advice because us old dudes (my words, not his) have already been there and we can tell them the pitfalls they need to avoid. So far so good but then he said something like, “My children will never know as much as I do. They might know as much as I do when they’re the age I am now but I’ll always be older and wiser.”
Lots of luck in trying to convince them of that, buddy. When my kids left home I figured that one of the best ways to get them to do what I wanted them to do, was to tell them to do the opposite of what I really wanted them to do. Then they would do the opposite of what I told them, thus accomplishing what I really wanted them to do. Smart, huh?
Can I let you in on a secret though? Sometimes they did things that I feared wouldn’t work out—and it worked famously. Sure, they occasionally fell on their faces. Kind of like me when I tried my wings for the first time. (Actually it’s kind of like me now, but that’s another story).
Smart parents give advice in small doses, with large time lapses between the doses, unless that advice is asked for.
You want to know the worst of it, though? We can kill our kid’s dreams with our “wisdom” if we’re not careful. Once my Uncle Billy, a successful insurance man, was talking to his father-in-law. Uncle Billy had been a barber when he decided to change professions and his father-in-law was dubious about the change. After all, his daughter and granddaughter figured in the mix.
“You didn’t think I’d make it, did you?” Uncle Billy teased years later.
Mature, older people can either kill vision among younger people or we can help enable them to reach the dreams that God has given them. Dreams are one of the most valuable possessions young people have. If we take that away from them (because we’re afraid they might supplant us?) we’ve ripped out a vital part of what they are.
When I was 24 years old a church in Texas had confidence and called us as their leader. I don’t know if they saw potential in me or if they were just desperate for a pastor. But as I began to share the vision that God had put in my heart for reaching that community for Christ, most of them joined in and reached out to make the dream come true.
There were a few that tried to squash the dream (and me too while they were at it!) but the vast majority participated in it. Some of them were three times my age but they still worked at my side.
That was over 30 years ago, and I’ve done a lot of different things in ministry, but one of the most fulfilling works came in that church when I was between the ages of 24 and 30. Dream enablers.
Jesus gave Joseph and Mary a start when they looked for him and couldn’t find him as they journeyed home from his first trip to the big city—Jerusalem. They hurried back and frantically looked for him, finally finding him in the temple, talking with the teachers. These men were amazed at his understanding.
But Mary and Joseph were shook up, as we all are when we don’t know where our kids are. Mary got onto him but Jesus answered her, “Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”
Mary didn’t understand it all. She could have raked him over the coals. “Just who do you think you are? You need to be satisfied helping your father Joseph. There’s a need for good carpenters in this country. You’ll never be anything but a peasant anyway so forget this stuff and get your feet anchored on the earth where they belong!”
She didn’t do that though. “But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51, NIV). I’m sure that her heart guided her actions. I wonder if she didn’t sit at the table at times and listen to him dream out loud.
Is it any wonder that the next thing we hear is, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52)?
The Heavenly Father made sure He didn’t give His Son an earthly mother who was a dream-killer. She was a dream enabler.
Young people love to dream and sometimes their dreams sound foolish to those of us who’ve been down the pike. We know how life works, don’t we?
And a lot of their dreams are just that-dreams and no more. But some of them become reality, most especially when those around the dreamer encourage him instead of pounding on him.
Parents, help your kids accomplish their dreams. Older pastors, help these younger men of God fulfill what God has put in their hearts. Don’t be afraid of their success. Participate in it by helping them.
You know, I wouldn’t want my kids to know this (though they all receive Coffee Stains), but I suspect they are a lot smarter than I am in a lot of ways. I hope I helped them get that way. I hope they accomplish a hundred times more for the Lord than I do. I hope I can help other young men and women accomplish what God has given them to do.
I don’t want to be a dream-squasher. I want to be a dream helper.