“Put one hand here, one there,” I said.
And off he went.
“Ah, I did it wrong,” he said
“It’s okay,” I said. “You didn’t hurt anything. Ty it again. Just don’t stop moving when you put the drum down.”
I was teaching a fifteen year old to run a drum floor sander on an oak floor I was refinishing.
When we finished he said, “Thanks, that was interesting.” It was a good feeling for me too.
Working with young people — I like it, old teaching young, and young helping old.
Earlier in the day, in the parking lot at the church, I ran into Angelina. When I saw her, I got down on both knees. She’s five. We are friends. She comes to church with her grandma. Two years ago I adopted her for Christmas. She hasn’t forgotten. We always trade hugs when we see each other, and it’s safe and warm with us, like Christmas.
When I was in my twenties I remember wishing I had someone besides my parents who thought I was special, who believed in me, who would help me forward. It didn’t happen. When I was young, no one ever said to me, “Wow, you are going to do well as a thinker, as a writer, as a leader. Go for it!”
Very few people, besides my mom, saw what I was to become, and helped me move toward that. I didn’t get much help running the sander.
But more helping and mentoring of us all is needed, more seeing into what someone might be and calling it forth. More compliments are needed, more affirmations, more prophesy, more invitations to work together, more opportunity. More showing people how to do what we know how to do is needed. More crossing the generation barrier is needed.
Today I told a young mom who put on a garage sale for the church, ” I like you. You are really organized. You communicate well. I have something in mind for you. Let’s talk later.”
We will. She has got it, the organizational thing, the ability to make stuff mind, the smooth talk skill, the super woman energy source.
Last week I told my friend Glen, who was taking off on a camping trip with eight to ten boys and a few dads, “Man, I love your concern for young men! It is so cool how you have helped the kids in your group without dads. You are the real deal.”
He is! Glen is old, but he is helping young. He is believing in someone besides himself. Glen knows that young men without fathers should not be unattended. He is preventing something; he is crafting something. He is manufacturing social endowment, giving away the store, adding value to human beings.
We need this. People around us need to be adopted, empowered, endowed. We need to tell more people, when we see them doing well, ” You are the real deal! You are something special! You are going to go far!”
What are we thinking, keeping quiet? We are not noticing potential, not seeing the amazing person standing before us, not affirming genius when we see it. We should not be so silent. We should enthuse over them all, the old the young, the disabled, the failed, the smart, the average.
We should smile over them, beam on them, hover behind them, like good parents, shouting, “You can do it! Go for it! You’ve got it in you!” And we should include them in what we do, and show them how to sand, to refinish and to redeem life.
It isn’t that we ever want to flatter, bribe or manipulate with pseudo compliments or false affirmations. We aren’t looking to use people to do what we need to do. No, we want only the truth about each one; we only want to speak out the real value and actual potential in each person, teaching as much as possible as opportunity presents itself.
What is needed is to give the young an opportunity. What is needed is to give the old a vision for passing along their own precious, rich, beautiful familial, occupational, psychological, spiritual and social endowments.
The thing is to get out of ourselves enough to recognize that the amazing people around us are headed somewhere, and that we can help them get there.
There are two ways.
We can walk into rooms as if to say, “Here I am!”
Or we can walk into rooms gushing in redemptive, life-changing honesty and humility, “There you are!”