What? A Lesson from Knickknacks?

Tyler with his arms full of a different kind of breakable pretty

Tyler with his arms full of a different kind of pretty

Last week I had the privilege of performing the wedding for Tyler, our first grandchild to be married. Tyler and his older—by five minutes—twin brother Ryan figure in an impressive list of anecdotes, not surprising, since they were the first of our eight grandkids. For the wedding reception fun time we were asked to provide some stories about Tyler.

Here’s one that goes well beyond being funny to illustrating an important lesson for all parents, coaches, and bosses.

Since my mom lived nearby when they were small boys, Tyler and Ryan often visited their great-grandma (Beppe). Each time they and their mom arrived, Beppe would quickly move all her precious breakables from coffee tables and low shelves placing them safely on the piano or on higher shelves out of reach of little playful hands.

One day my daughter dropped in unexpectedly with the boys, and was chatting in the kitchen with her grandma while the boys went into the living room to play. A few minutes later they appeared in the kitchen, their arms piled high with prized breakable knickknacks. Before anyone could say or do anything, they explained, “Beppe, you forgot to put away all your pretty things, so we brought them to you to put away.”

Okay! They had just demonstrated that they could identify breakable, pretty things, and were ready to be taught to leave them alone and not play with them—the next stage of development.

Why is it so hard for authorities and trainers to see when someone is ready to move to the next stage? I well remember at age 15 trying to get my father to understand that I was totally ready to learn to drive his car. After all, I knew about steering, braking, and changing gears from driving the neighbour’s small Ford tractor while doing chores on his farm. He eventually relented and reluctantly let me drive with him beside me. I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday. He was surprised when, a week later I started driving a delivery van in my after school and Saturdays job.

Parents tend to keep doing things for their kids, denying them a chance to learn by experience and develop personal skills . I hear of young people getting married and neither one of them knows how to cook a meal, something our three daughters learned to do in their early teens.

At work, employees are held back from promotion, not because they are incapable of learning to do a more responsible job, but because their superiors can’t visualize them doing it.

Sadly, in church a similar attitude prevails. Leaders look at older teens and see them as kids goofing off in Sunday school instead of young people fully capable of leading a meeting or teaching a class.

It is by no means a new problem. The apostle Paul urged his protégé Timothy to keep teaching and wrote, “Do not let anyone put you down because you’re young.” 1 Timothy 4:12 (MSG)

Authorities such as parents, coaches, leaders, and employers, should do themselves a favour and see the possibilities in the people under their control and influence. They need to give them a chance to develop, to grow, to mature, and take some risks.

There comes a time when great-grandmas need to leave those breakable pretties on their coffee tables, and lead their grandkids into the next stage of development.

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