In the Glove Compartment

I had an errand to run, and I’d wanted to talk to my son Derek about some things, so I asked him to come with me. Derek climbed into the passenger seat of our minivan, and we were off.

Not two minutes into our trip, Derek reaches into the glove compartment and pulls out the owner’s manuals. Having only recently gotten our vehicle, the owner’s manuals were wrapped in cellophane, untouched by its current owners.

Because, you know, owner’s manuals. I had not yet become stranded on the side of the road, or needed to try to replace a fuse, or been burdened with the task of finding out the diameter of my van’s tires.

Without saying a word — certainly without asking me — Derek tears open the cellophane, opens the manual, and starts to find where the diagrammed components were. He read aloud about airbags and knee impact. He pointed out places where the manual displayed features at a level above that of our vehicle. (There seemed to be several.)

The whole time he was doing this, I was observing him with this mixture of disbelief and something like wonder. It was as if half of me was asking: who is this kid? No, seriously, whose kid is this? And the other half was discovering: this is who this kid is! This is what might make him tick!

As a leader, as a parent, as a pastor: there is nothing quite like watching someone discover something they’re into. It’s exhilarating. For me, it’s pure oxygen.

Helping someone discover what they’re into isn’t something you can dictate. People can’t be forced to enjoy something; they can only be led to the opportunity.

And sometimes, the opportunity is in the glove compartment, waiting to have its cellophane torn off.

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