Yeah, I admit to sweeping and mopping my downstairs at 5:30am today. Anne and I usually go for a walk with our little herd around 4:30am and then do a quick stop at Starbucks and Anne gets ready for work while I do her lunch. The aftermath of 30 teens after our mentor dinner is you better do something. I can remember as a kid growing up that my mom always had a certain way of doing things. I will always have this sense in the back of my head that if I didn’t clean up my room, help pick up our ‘stuff’ in the living room or help with whatever that I wasn’t doing it right. I know that having had a few different teens live with us over the last 4 years our standards of how to do certain things definitely contrasts with those who haven’t been taught to care about their ‘stuff’. I laugh when someone vacuums and you see this swirl on the carpet like every five feet instead of seeing this neat line of vacuum marks that tells you it’s clean.
I am thankful to have had a dad that was in the military. I know that having been a rebellious teen type in the 60’s and early 70’s we clashed big time. Yet, looking back it was his drive and organizational DNA that impacted my life. That might have had something to do with becoming an Eagle Scout at 13 when the typical scout is more like 17-18 when they get to Eagle, if they do. So as we seek to bring Godly standards to everything we do and a sense that excellence has to be the passion base for life we typically hit a wall. Hey, who do you think I am, is the typically response? Why should I have to kill myself?
My hope is to see God impact the lives of those who have never had any role model of someone who is passionate or has a desire to do everything with excellence. I know that my Anne tires at times with some of our teens and adults who seem to be oblivious to picking up after themselves. I also ask everyone to get away from the mindset that of why should I have to cleanup someone else’s mess. The simple reality is that if I care then I will be motivated to do what is right with all of my heart and clean up the mess regardless of who made it.
I know that some are naturally gifted with school and sports and the rest of us have to make a concerted effort to succeed. So it is interesting to me that as we start talking about doing a Leadership Trip to San Diego and I make one of the standards that you have to be getting C’s in all of your classes that there was a large cry – ouch. I had a couple teens that pleaded with me and said they would knock themselves out to improve. I simply said go for it. You need to do better regardless of this trip. Why does it take a trip to motivate you to want to do better?
I was getting into a discussion with someone about whether it made sense to bribe someone to behave accordingly or perform in school? I can understand the frustrations of a young mom with a little guy who isn’t figuring out potty training but after getting special prizes, candy or whatever, what happens when this little guy becomes 10 and decides that he doesn’t want to do school any more? Do you bribe him to get up and get dressed even though he has thrown tantrums? Is it ok for this guy to stay home because mom or dad is too wimpy to have standards? What happens when this little guy now a 10 year old demands that he be allowed to do Wii or PS3 when being a truant?
Now I take the leap from that rebellious 10 year old who doesn’t do school and enjoys the luxury of playing Wii all day long to a 20 something who has been encouraged by mom to get on disability and get section 8 housing? My Anne and I had an interesting discussion about whether we should purposely be poor and disabled so we don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage any more? What I don’t get is when someone is totally capable of making it and chooses not to set up and do it right? I can then become the passionate community activist that believes that there should be parameters for any type of assistance so that a work ethic is being taught and that the hand out mentality is being addressed. The goal has to be the ability for a person to become self-sustaining.
I know that it isn’t easy to communicate grace and mercy along with standards. It is too easy for those who are educated and hard working types to cater to those who are like them. Much like it is easy to be harder on those who aren’t good at academics. I know that God’s heart is not looking at a grade or position or level at work but your heart and attitude. Are you striving to do your best? Do you care about both the little details and the bigger outcome?
I think often of how Jesus dealt with the differences among his group of 12. It was clear that you had a couple of bean counters that were concerned about the ‘bottom’ line, others who were more concerned about the crowd’s view of what was happening and then a few who thought they had sacrificed everything and what was in it for them in the end. The last night of Jesus’ earthly life most of his group were more fixated with who would be on his right or left and not if any of them would be standing next to Jesus as he slowly died on the cross next to a thief and a murderer.
I’m glad that our God is a God of order who created with purpose and a plan that totally reflects His Character! Imagine life, if it is possible, that didn’t have order or standards?