Excerpt from Chapter 5 of Surf the Woods
When one of my daughters was younger, she enjoyed participating in team sports. She was a very competitive young lady, and team sports were a healthy outlet for that competitive nature. The first sport she tried was basketball. After a few years of basketball, she moved on to softball. She did not have the kind of success she had hoped for in either of those sports, so she decided to give soccer a try.
One night I picked her up from school after she had arrived back from an away game. It was her second year participating in soccer. She got off the bus and climbed inside the truck rather frustrated. It was obvious that something was wrong. We sat there in silence for a few minutes until I broke the tension with that scary question a dad often fears to ask, “Is everything ok?” That’s when the tears started. “Dad, I wasn’t good at basketball. I wasn’t good at softball. And I’m not good at soccer either. I try so hard, and it doesn’t seem to matter. I just want to give up.” I sat there in silence not sure what to say. Right before my eyes I was watching her dream door close.
This was a perfect example of what happens early on in our lives that often causes us to shut down and seek refuge in the safezone. I needed to move in with a rescue plan. For the rest of the trip home I spent the time focusing on the strengths that God had given her, and how in time He would use those strengths for powerful impact if she would put them to use for His glory. The key was to focus her attention on her strengths and away from her weaknesses. Once I had her attention on her strengths, she opened up about her dreams.
If you don’t work hard to keep a person’s dream door wide open, they will close that door in relationship to their strengths as well as their weaknesses. When that happens, they will stop thinking ambitiously in all aspects of their lives -- including the areas where they have natural strengths. That is the beginning of a disappointing life. As a parent and friend, you must find a careful balance in steering others towards their strengths while giving them a chance to explore their weaknesses. Being a father of five, I have found both to be important.