As much as we might value our good intentions, they can get in the way of trust, and there is so much freedom in trust! Let me give you an example.
I have the best of intentions for my sons. I intend for them to grow up to be leaders. So I try to teach them to be leaders. Since I’m teaching them, I want them to listen to me. I want them to obey me all the time, and never talk back. I don’t want them to challenge me. I want them to answer me with honesty and respect.
But they are little boys, living in the fragile world of childhood. They don’t see my intentions and expectations in the same way that I do. They may want to express themselves in their own way, and become the people they were born to be. By putting my expectations on them, I don’t always allow them to be themselves. I can get in the way of them becoming who they are.
In my intention to train them for leadership, I try to put my sons in a box. It’s as if I give them a message that says, listen, if you stay in this box, you will be fine. Don’t leave the box.
That makes me feel good as a dad, because I feel like I have control. My family is doing what they should be doing. My kids look good to other people because they’re not acting out. These are the best of intentions, but it’s a recipe for frustration. As soon as one of them leaves that box, maybe because he wants to express who he is, I can get angry or frustrated. And of course I try to put him back in the box! But that causes my sons to live in bondage and not in the freedom to be who they are. That’s not leading, that’s dictatorship!
My good intention is for my sons to be leaders. But I don’t trust them to become leaders in who they are. And why shouldn’t I? They are wonderful people and can become good leaders. I don’t have to first make them be just like me. They have their own personalities and my job is train them to be leaders based on who they are, not who I am.
Not everyone is like you. That’s so obvious that we can fail to really understand it. We have to be able to trust other people for who they are, just as I have to be able to trust that my sons will be leaders in who they are. When I allow my boys to express themselves in their own way, I can actually give them freedom. I can love them and encourage them to be who they are, and who they’re going to become.
We have to be able to trust other people for who they are. But it doesn’t stop there! We also have to trust people with who we are. We need to be available, and transparent, and open. We have to be honest with each other and say, “This is who I am.”