My two boys were sitting on the bed giggling. A million dollar moment, right? The younger one, Isaac, was watching his brother Isaiah move his hands when Isaac started to mimic his big brother. Isaiah got a little annoyed and pushed Isaac’s hands away.
I stepped in and said, “Isaiah, you have to show Isaac how to do things. He doesn’t know; he’s looking to you to show him how to act.”
Then it occurred to me, Isaiah doesn’t know much more than Isaac does. Yet Isaiah has the responsibility to set an example for his younger brother.
Parents aren’t around 24/7 to show their children how to behave in every situation. So who is showing Isaiah how to treat Isaac when Sondra and I are not around?
Moments When You Have No Example
Eyes are watching us. These eyes are looking for cues, answers and instruction. You or I may have been blessed with a great mentor or teacher but what do we do when they’re not around to set the example?
Here’s the truth: rarely do any of us know what we’re doing, yet we all will play the role of the older sibling. Others look to us craving leadership, yet we often know less than those we lead. We are forced to lead others to a place we, ourselves, have not yet been. What do we do?
All we can do is rely upon the virtues that we’ve consciously decided to make a part of our lives and discerningly apply them.
For Isaiah, I may not be able to teach him how to respond in every situation but I can teach him the virtue of kindness. I can tell him about the virtue of selflessness. I can explain the virtue of service to another. I can show him all these things expecting that he will be able to connect each virtue to successfully leading his younger brother in the moment that it is needed most.
Like Isaiah, we are not prepared for every challenge or adverse situation we encounter. When I lost my job I had no idea how to lead my wife because it had never happened before. Yet, I still had the responsibility.
Virtues of Future Past (little X-Men reference)
It’s likely you can think of a scenario that you’ve been through (or are currently going through) that you were not prepared to handle. What virtues from past growth do you need to rely upon to lead well through the unknown?
Are you endeavoring to connect general virtues to specific responses?