I sat in the hot seat. Four of my impromptu advisors surrounded me. They were operating in the prophetic, filled with the Holy Spirit.
“There were times in your life that you really needed a father,” one told me, “and you didn’t have one. My prayer for you is that you learn to seek God as your Father, because we all need one.”
Solid advice. I know it.
It’s actually shocking to me that I’ve been under so many leaders in my life in various roles — teachers, employers, spiritual leaders, friends, family members — and so few of them were willing or able to lead me.
I was not raised in the way I could have been, and my own leadership suffered as a result.
It was supposed to be my father who was there to help me. No doubt, he was physically accessible much of the time, and he did love me. I never doubted that.
But he didn’t know how to lead. He didn’t know how to discipline or explain to me things I needed answers to. I remember hearing two phrases all the time growing up — “Tomorrow” whenever I asked for something he didn’t agree with me having, though tomorrow never came, and “I’ll tell you when you’re older” when I asked a difficult question he didn’t seem to want to answer. Even as a child, I knew when I was being jerked around.
“No, you can’t have that because…” is something I plan to say to my kids. “The reason we do this is because…” is another, followed by, “Let me show you.”
As a child, I remembered having a lot of adults confide in me. I was never really sure why until I realized God had a plan for my life that would entail advising others. Even now, people ask me for advice that frankly I’m not always qualified to give — spiritual advice, academic guidance, financial, relationship, fitness and career advice. I’m still learning myself where I stand in many of these areas.
Though I cannot say I am overly qualified to do the job, I think what surprises me the most is how much I love doing it. I love staying behind an extra hour or two to talk with people who ask me for help (as long as they don’t irritate me). I love when people think highly enough of me to ask for my opinion. I do my very best to help them, provided they are willing to help themselves.
I simultaneously dread and look forward to the time when I will be so booked that I can’t talk to all the people who wish to learn from me. Eventually I’ll have to rely on public speaking or published works to multiply how many places I can be at one time.
What surprises me too is how high a percentage of people I’ve asked for help were reluctant to share what they knew with me. Even worse, several of the leaders I’ve been positionally under, organizationally or otherwise, sought to use all of my talents, sought to teach me nothing, and sought to take the credit for themselves, often without honoring our agreement (including financially).
It makes no sense. It’s suicide.
If you manipulate those you have influence over for personal gain, the most you will gain from them is temporary labor. If you invest in them and help them to be better than they are, even better than you are, you might possibly gain a permanent ally that is more valuable than you could have possibly dreamed.
But still. It seems like most people guard their secrets jealously and give their time sparingly or at a price. Haven’t they figured out that it’s more beneficial to them selfishly if they give willingly?
It’s a mystery.