“MOM! DAD! I’m ready to take my training wheels off!”
I was not ready to hear that. Noah, however, was apparently, ready to do it.
While I was still sifting through my emotions, my husband sprang into action. He grabbed his toolbox and headed outside, funny how Dad’s approach these things differently than moms…..
As the shock wore off, I decided I better grab my own toolbox: AKA: the first aid kit. While they were happily removing training wheels, preparing for a celebration, I prepared for potential disaster. I did a quick first aid kit inventory check: Band-aids? Check. Neosporin? Check. Butterfly closures? Check. Emergency phone numbers? On speed dial. Defibrillator? (for me, not Noah.) Check. (Ok, maybe not an actual defibrilliator.. but I did wonder if I would need one.. my heart was pounding!)
“Hurry up Mommy, we’re ready!” Noah yelled, from the front porch.
“But, I’m not.” I replied under my breath.
As I slowly (Why yes, I was stalling, you noticed that?.) put on my shoes, I envisioned all the things that could happen: broken bones, concussions, bruises, lacerations…..
I swallowed hard, trying to shove the fear back where it came from. I reminded myself: “It’s a rite of passage… he’s ready. The older boys learned, he will too.
I’d stalled as long as I could. I went outside. I saw Noah’s face. He was lit up like a Christmas tree. He was excited and mostly likely a bit afraid. He (and his dad) glowed.
I watched him tighten his helmet like a Wright brother preparing for take-off.
I watched his dad, steady the red “Lightening McQueen” bike as he climbed up onto the seat.
I watched my husband start to run along side of him gently pushing the bike.
I watched Noah start to pedal.
The bike wobbled.
“You can do it!” his daddy encouraged.
Their faces glowed with excitement and fear.
Noah pedaled harder, he countered the wobbles with his weight, he was learning to balance.
“You’re doing it!” My husband called.
“I am!” Noah responded.
And then time slowed. The distance between them grew. My husband was no longer holding onto the bike. He stopped running. Noah kept riding. On his own. He rounded the corner, started to wobble… and gently steered onto the grass to stop. Just like his daddy had taught him.
“Let’s do it again!” He yelled.
They did. Over and over. Climb up, pedal, run, let go, pedal, glide to a stop. Some of the landings were softer than others. By Monday morning, his shins looked like he was part dalmation. They were spotted with bruises, but he wore them as a badge of honor. “I Did it!” He kept saying. “You did!” I replied, each time. Pride in his accomplishment, replaced my fear. I posted videos and pictures. I beamed.
He was right. He had been ready to take off the training wheels.
He rides on his own, everyday now. I’m not afraid anymore. I trust.
Being a courageous leader, means knowing when it’s time to take off the training wheels, and knowing when to hold on and help steady those around us. It also means allowing for the bumps and bruises that happen as we learn to balance and pedal and lead. Some landings are softer than others. We learn.
It’ about trust, not just in who we lead, but in the one who leads us.
When we took the training wheels off of Noah’s bike, he trusted that he was prepared. He trusted that his dad would steady him, and coach him. He trusted that we’d care for any bumps and boo-boos that happened.
When leaders take the training wheels off, and step out in courage, we learn to trust as well. We trust that God has prepared us and those we lead. (or will.) We trust that He will steady us, and run along side of us. We trust that he can heal whatever bumps and bruises we receive (or inflict) as we learn.
We each have opportunities to take the training wheels off each day.. maybe it’s in delegating a responsibility, or giving someone space to make a mistake, try something new or test their balance….
Are you ready to have the training wheels taken off? Is someone around you ready? How can you help?
Are you afraid? I am. Too. It’s scary. In leadership the bumps and bruises are painful. We make mistakes that affect others. We step on toes and (sometimes) hearts. We offend. But we also help. We grow. We reach out. Like riding a bike.. these are rites of passage. They are worth the fear and pain.
I want to glow with joy, like Noah did. I want to trust that my heavenly Dad is holding me steady as I pedal. I want to trust that he does the same for those I lead. I want to cheer you on- to being courageous:
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”