“But I want to be a shepherd. I don’t want to be a sheep,” complains my four-year-old. The corners of his mouth point down in a frown, and his eyes threaten tears.
As much as I want to explain the hierarchy of the Sunday School Christmas skit to him, he just won’t understand that the youngest kids really only have the capacity to play the animals in the stable. It’s just what it is. So I encourage him that he’s a great sheep and try to keep him excited about it.
But I well remember this dilemma from my freshman year of high school. After summoning up every ounce of courage I had to audition in front of the whole drama club, I ended up being the only freshman without even a speaking line. Disgruntled, I told my parents I wanted to quit.
“But you signed a contract,” they reminded me. My drama teacher, probably from experience in the art of working with flaky teenagers, had wisely required the signing of a commitment contract before the audition.
My parents then offered me a challenge: to be the absolute best I could be, speaking or no, and see what happened. “The directors will notice your commitment and effort,” they insisted.
So stick with it I did. I showed up for every rehearsal, and prioritized my role. And then it happened, when one of the girls left, I got a line! Next season, I got the lead.
It set a precedent, in every area of life – that doing your best, whether it’s the role you want or not, makes an impact.
Back to Today
In the car on the way to the big performance, the same argument pops up. For some reason, it’s in his head that a sheep is not the part to be. So I encourage him with the same words my parents told me – take your part and make it amazing. Stand out, no matter what. Be the very best you can be. And people will take notice.
And let me tell you – that kid knocked it out of the park. If you watch the video of the performance, you’ll hear a little sheep quietly baa-ing all throughout. You’ll notice a little sheep up front that’s a little star. I could not be prouder, because I know the kind of thinking he overcame to get there.
The Messages Sink In
Sometimes it feels like you’re talking to a wall with kids. I didn’t know how much was actually sinking in as I gave my little speech to my four-year-old. I wasn’t even sure he’d make it through the performance.
But have faith. What you’re saying, and what you’re acting out in front of your kids – they notice. They take it in.
My little guy absorbed so much more than I thought, and really made it happen. I don’t know that it will always work out like that, but I was so grateful for that moment. It’s one I can hang onto when it doesn’t work out another time.
What’s a lesson you’ve passed on to your kids, that had a result you didn’t expect?