A couple weeks ago i was at a dinner party with my wife. There i met a gentlemen in his mid 80’s. I spent the better part of the evening listening to and talking with him. I was enthralled. I left our conversation distressed, as it was a truly enjoyable conversation, much more so than i could have ever imagined yet it left me sad. It took me till today to figure out what was bothering me.
As I stood at my dad’s grave this afternoon i was once again overwhelmed with the reality that he is gone. I used to love listening to my dad’s stories, sometimes they had lessons, sometimes they were just fun. What ever the story, it left me with a sense of peace and security that all was well. I dont think i realized how much i’ve missed that until the dinner party a couple weeks ago. I am somehow held spellbound by someone who has gone before me, has lived to tell about it and is wiling to share their story. Not just any story, but their story. The story of their life, their journey, the good and the tough times. To know they have triumphed and emerged on the other side to be able to share the story gives me hope and peace. It is the subtle lesson that life’s gonna be ok, no matter how tumultuous today seems.
I believe as we lead we need someone who has gone before us. God has challenged leaders to make decisions and though we can and should get wise counsel, the weight of the decision is sitll the leaders to bear. You can’t delegate the responsibility for consequences by asking “what choice should i make” and then blaming the outcome on the person who gave you the advice. We can listen to the wisdom of others who have had to make decisions and see the outcomes of those decisions though. I learned this from my dad. I would never listen when he told me what to do, but he would have my undivided attention when he told me what he did and what the outcomes was. In this way i learned to take responsiblilty for my actions.
My dad has been gone for years now and my life has changed. i want to ask him about raising my kids, about my relationship with my wife and about having people rely on my decisions and the impact of a bad decision on others. I have never had another mentor like my dad and i suppose it’s unrealistic to think i ever will, yet i have a new hope in the ability to learn from those who have gone before me and will definately go out of my way to listen to the stories of those who are farther down the road.