What tools do parents need to teach mission? There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to this question, but I can tell you what I have learned that I need.
Recently, while on a family camp-out, I noticed that our trailer’s tires looked fairly bald. I am not real good at assessing mechanical problems, so I asked my husband if we needed to buy some new tires before going home. He informed me that the tires “were fine for now.” We started our trip away from the campground. After about 10 minutes on the road our tire blew out. We found ourselves on the side of a rural road, in the heat, at dinner time, with only a small amount of water, and without the proper tools to fix the tire. My husband found an old jack which he was able to lift the trailer with. He had a bucket of plumbing tools with us, so he rummaged through those until he found a few wrenches. Spencer is a master with a wrench, but he was still unable to loosen some of the lug-nuts with these inadequate tools. We were stuck!
While helplessly watching my husband try to work a miracle on our trailer I realized that our situation was a parable for what I need to do in order to better inspire family mission.
When we recognize that we are getting run down, we should schedule some time right then to build up our spiritual, emotional, and physical strength so we can be ready to travel the long rough roads ahead. This is one of Covey’s "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"; “Sharpen the Saw.” If I have a small amount of time per week to study what I want, or work on parts of my mission without interruptions, I am much more inspiring and relaxed for my husband and children.
Another lesson I learned from this experience is, it doesn’t matter how strong we are or how good we are at using a wrench, because a wrench isn’t the tool meant for the job. We need to know what kinds of inspiring tools we need for our families. Each family may be different. My husband has to work on patience the most. If he is patient with the children, he is able to inspire our whole family. We all feel the greatness when Dad keeps the spirit of love in himself. Other people may need logic, wisdom, compassion, creativity, better communication skills, or vision in their parenting tool kit in order to best inspire their family to live for their family mission.
Let’s return to the hopeless tire situation. After Spencer knelt on the asphalt, in his shorts, trying to strong arm the stubborn lug-nuts for about 15 minutes, I asked him if he would like me to try to call someone. He said he still thought he could get the nuts loose. After he worked on them for another 15 minutes, I reminded him that our brother-in-law only lived about an hour from the spot where we were stranded, and that he would probably be able to come bring us the proper tool for the job. After working on the problem for about an hour, my husband consented to let me call for help. I made a call to my brother-in-law and he started his journey to us with the appropriate tool and water. Now the only thing left to do was sit in the car and wait. While sitting in the car, Quinton, my 12 year old said, “Mom, before we left the campground we didn’t say a prayer for a safe journey like we usually do.” This was a huge revelation for me. How could we have forgotten to pray?
Having to ask for help in order to resume our journey in the right direction and then immediately being reminded that we had forgotten to pay taught me a valuable lesson. Our families aren’t really our own. We all belong to God. As parents we have a stewardship from God to raise the spirits in our home. Since the family really belongs to Him, we need to involve Him in the visions we have for our families, and ask for His help and direction on a regular basis. We always need help. We can’t forget that. We have to get in the habit of consulting our Heavenly Father in all we do.
Luckily we got the tire fixed, and headed toward our destination; home. We had a definite vision of how wonderful it was going to be when we got there, and the delay just made the vision sweeter. Our family started happily down the road again. Ten miles later we blew a tire on the other side of the trailer. That was a long night! I guess we really needed new tires after all.
The last tool I have could be compared to one of those air-compressed lug-nut removers that tire shops have. I call the tool, hitting. Be a “hitter.” A few years ago I was perusing some books at the local library, and I came across a book called, “Stand for Something.” I was immediately drawn to this book, because I have read other enjoyable and uplifting books with similar titles. Many people seem to know it is time to give our world the message that you need to know who and what you stand for. "Stand For Something" was written by John Kasich. John is a pretty big baseball fan. In his book he talked about being a “hitter” instead of a “bunter”.
John explained that bunters are only worried about their own comfort and safety. When a bunter gets up to bat, he barely makes contact with the ball so that he can safely take one base or move another player. Bunters don’t really want to make any big impact, they just want to stay safely in the game.
Hitters were described differently. Hitters step up to the plate, they get in the best possible position for hitting, and then they stare down the pitcher and take a powerful wind-up. When that pitch comes, a hitter either whacks that ball out of the park with everything he’s got, or he spins a hole in the dirt trying to.
Hitters and bunters are very different from each other! Be a hitter. In every mission you have, hit hard, or spin a hole in the dirt trying to. A parent who is a “hitter” makes home more fun, and inspiring. I’d rather make an occasional hole in the dirt and loose a pitch here and there than choose to take the path of mediocrity and never inspire anyone to find their greatness.