In general, I’m not a risk taker. I was a first born child, reared to be cautious and ever cognizant of danger. I don’t necessarily have a fear of heights. I’m not claustrophobic. I’m not whatever you call it if you are afraid of snakes or bears. However, I am afraid of things like extreme pain, permanent damage, large medical bills, and death.
As a result, I tend to be a bit of a hovering dad. This past weekend our family spent a few days in Chattanooga, TN.
I wrote another blog about the experience that you can read here. “Losing is Never Good (until it is)”
The photo above was taken while we toured Point Park on Lookout Mountain. As you can see, there are no protective rails. Just a large rock formation that looked like a fun spot to climb and stand to catch a breathtaking view. It looked like a perch that could make the heart rate increase a little. As we approached the cliff, I felt some version of the “call of the wild”…the beckoning for adventure…the need to exercise my manhood. After a few photos, I turned to the rock pile and climbed the few short feet and stood with an unrestricted, unrestrained view of the entire region. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t afraid. I was calm, comfortable, and enjoyed the slight alteration in altitude.
Standing alone was not a big deal. However, both of my kids decided they wanted to climb up with daddy. Everything changed.
I came down from the peak of this little rock pile, took the hand of my son, turned and faced what now looked like a lofty summit…Kilimanjaro…Everest. The scope and scale seemed to enlarge with the simple act of taking the hand of my beloved kids. Suddenly my mind was rushing with thoughts of tripping, falling, claustrophobia, snakes, bears, and death in general.
The sense of responsibility heightened to the degree that nerves flooded my body, fear tapped at my nerve endings, calm and comfortable leaped over the ledge, and what was once a quaint, minuscule adventure morphed into a momentous trek. Holding the hand of one less self sufficient…one not as coordinated or strong…one not as experienced or skilled…one not as wise or attentive…one not as aware or conscious of the dangers…
Holding the hand of someone else made the little climb altogether different.
I was responsible…for their well being…for their lives.
I was leading them up a mountain of sorts…I was the guide…I was the one assigned to make sure they got up, and then back down unscathed.
Such is leadership…such is the life of faith in general…we are responsible for others. Whether we accept that or not, it is a reality. Volumes of scriptural evidence supports the idea. I am indeed my brother’s keeper, no matter how much Cain protested. I’m not climbing alone. The well being, the lives of others, are my responsibility.
Because of this, I must be mature, wise, cautious, conscious, coordinated, attentive, and aware.
My presumed freedoms must be restrained…my liberties submitted…my “personal relationship with Jesus” laid on the altar of God for His good purposes and the benefit of the brethren.
I can’t “live how I want to.”
I can’t “post everything I want to post.”
I can’t “consume whatever I want.”
I can’t “say what I want to say.”
In my immaturity I used to call those things, “not being real”, or “compromising who I am”, or “man pleasing”, or “legalism”.
I’ve come to realize I was wrong.
It’s called “being responsible.”