You know how sometimes you have this big event planned and you look forward to it for a very long time, and then it comes and disaster happens? You have this grand picture in your mind of how it will be and you just figure that everyone in your household has the same picture and will swimmingly move into place with simply a nod of the head from you, even rascally little boys who only want to play in dirt all day.
Last week was my oldest son’s big deal graduation from TJYC. That stands for Thomas Jefferson Youth Certification. He was been taking classes from the LEMI Commonwealth Schools here in Davis County for five years, and the TJYC is the last class. (see http://thelemi.com/apprentice-scholar) I have been looking forward to this time for years. Every graduating class has a night with speeches from each of the TJYC students about what they learned over the previous semesters. TJYC is usually three semesters but his mentors love the work so much they made it into four. The course is so grueling that half of the students usually quit. The students who finish can receive one credit of work at George Wythe College. They study literature, history, leadership, worldviews, and Supreme Court cases. It is a huge accomplishment to finish. So we have been looking forward to this celebration for years. After the speeches, the families go out to a dinner to celebrate and visit. We have been to previous years’ speeches to inspire him and now it was his turn to be inspiring.
So last Monday was the big night. After a change of venue, lots of thinking to make this work with our big family of nine, and being gone all day chauffeuring children to other homeschool commitments and running errands, the night was here. Yes, Monday is typically reserved for FHE but Monday was the only night the scholars had free with all their other end of the school year commitments. We couldn’t afford to take our whole family out to dinner so I had made the plan that I would have a nice meal fixed for the five middle children before we left. We would start getting ready at 6 PM, start going out to the car at 6:15, and then be at the restaurant by 6:30. After my son’s speech, my husband would take the five middles home for their dinner and then my husband and son and I with baby in tow would eat with the other celebrants.
Well, by the time I got home from driving all day, I wanted a little rest so that pushed back having dinner ready. It was almost ready though. The dinner could finish cooking while I was gone and my capable 14 year old daughter would serve it. I went upstairs to change my clothes into something nicer at 6. Have you ever read Leadership and Self-deception? That book talks about getting little insights or glimmers of light. I got one just then. It was that my children needed a reminder to get themselves ready. I was assuming they could read my mind and knew to get ready at 6, but in reality, they weren’t. So I called out to my husband to ask them to get ready. I could hear him doing that and assumed that he was looking into the boys’ room to make sure they were all there getting ready. NOT. He spoke through a closed door, which I didn’t know at the time.
Well, so later I am scrambling around, taking care of a few things and it occurs to me that I haven’t seen two of the kids for a while. I call out to them and don’t get a response. Where are they?!!! It turns out they were outside, playing in the irrigation ditch. AARGH! We called them in, scolded them, and they hurried to get changed. I feel like this child of mine is always so clueless, going off and forgetting to ask permission to go outside. I was angry at him for doing that and I was angry at me for thinking he had picked up my timetable to leave by osmosis. It was true that I had never told him face to face what I expected of him and when, so I let go of my anger and took the accountability on my part.
My desire to have children nicely dressed and to calmly stroll in as a perfect family parade on time was thwarted. I had assumed that my husband made sure every boy was in the room getting ready. In that moment of finding out my son was at the irrigation ditch I realized my husband had done the same thing I was doing…calling out but not engaging in face to face leadership to make sure that all were accounted for.
So I learned my lesson. Don’t assume, ask for exactly what I want, and follow up. Myassumptions are a clue that I might be on the road to self-deception. Not only that, but ask and follow up face to face, especially when delegating. I just read an article about the importance of face to face leadership by an LDS scholar. You can read it here.http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=2589
The first example the author cites is of a man whom I have met and even had dinner with him in his home. He is a great man and now I know one of his leadership secrets that contributes to his greatness. The author also cites the example of Joseph Smith, as one who consistently exercised face to face leadership. Of course, the ultimate example is Jesus Christ. When I read the account of his face to face leadership in this article I felt a witness from the Holy Ghost of how true and wonderful His leadership is.
As we walked into the restaurant, I realized my picture of a beautifully dressed family parade was jarred. We were slightly late with a son who had mismatched socks and cut-off shorts and a daughter with clashing colors (turquoise blue and orange, YIKES. She has this thing that she only likes to wear shirts with ‘stand-up’- collars…and sheesh, she’s only four…her strong tastes for “fashion” that collide with mine are worthy of another blog post). I took a big breath and enjoyed the evening anyway, both because of the leadership lessons the students shared and because of the leadership lesson I learned from home. It’s true that the greatest work you ever do will be within the walls of your own home. That works first starts within the walls of our minds, in following those little clues or glimmers of the light of the Christ.