DO vs. BE

I’m grateful to have a wealth of mentors in my life. I am surrounded by people who have wisdom and are willing to share it. Real leaders. People who do all sorts of things. Young and old. Men and women. Rich and poor. Their relationships help me do what I do.

Last night, I was having a conversation with one of these mentors. He is a man I look up to and respect. He has a wonderful sense of humor and likes to challenge me in any opportunity he gets. There are a few things in life he takes very seriously — his relationship with Christ, his family, politics, and — of course — golf.

I often look to him for wisdom on parenting. He has three daughters who are now adults. From what I can tell, he did a pretty good job raising them. I ask him parenting questions all the time. Questions about college, drugs, sex, peer pressure, discipline, and the list could go on and on.

I have a teenager– you get it… . Parenting an adolescent is sometimes like driving into an unfamiliar territory without your GPS. It can be a wonderful journey, but it would be a little less stressful if you knew exactly where to turn.

So, I asked the question, “How did you talk to your girls about drinking? Did you tell them they weren’t allowed to do it?” I got a response I wasn’t expecting.

“No, I didn’t talk at all about the do. I talked about the ‘be’,” he said.

He explained, “As parents, my wife and I focused less on what-to-do or not-to-do, but shifted the conversations with our children to, ‘What do you want to be? Who do you want to be? How do your choices affect who you will be?’ We didn’t talk much about the ‘do’.”

Wow. It’s just two letters. Two words.

DO or BE? So simple. So powerful.

We don’t ask the BE question enough. I think about our with families in poverty. How many times have I completely overlooked this? Going straight to the to-do list. Get a job, enroll in school, go to counseling, get housing and do,do,do…

We need to shift the conversation and begin asking different questions. What do you want to be? Where would you like to be in the future? What will influence who you want to be?

We have to explore purpose and meaning. This isn’t the stuff that we can chart out on a case plan or measure with a matrix. This is the stuff in our soul. Why I am I here? What are my God-given gifts? Who am I intended to be?

I’m thankful I have so many people in my life. People willing to share their personal insight and experience. Young and old. Men and women. Rich and poor. Their relationships help me BE who I am.

by Heather Cunningham — to learn more about Heather’s work, please visit thinktank-inc.org

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