Recently Noah has started on the journey that leads to things like bungee-jumping (or surfing). He's taken to climbing up onto our garden wall, at a point where it is quite low, and walking along it to where it is higher. It's still not a very high wall, but he's still not a very big boy (he's two-and-a-half years old). I think the wall is higher than he is; certainly, he gets to the point where he doesn't fancy trying to get back the way he came, can't get down where he is, and carefully sits down and waits for his daddy to come and lift him off, and - via a great big hug - put him back on the patio...From a dad's point-of-view, it's not so much "Feel the fear, and do it anyway..." as "Feel the fear, and let him do it anyway..."
"Feel the fear, and let them do it anyway..." is probably one of the secrets of good parenting (not to mention of surviving parenthood!) - and of good church leadership too. So many church leaders seem to find the prospect of letting people have a go, releasing them to follow their dreams, giving permission to try, and permission to fail, and permission to succeed, something too frightening to affirm (or even allow). So many church members seem to get frustrated by that attitude, and walk away - not from God, but from church - and just keep walking...
Again, we've got something to learn from the little kids here. When they go exploring the Big Wide World it goes a bit like this:
- first they wander off from mum or dad just a few feet and for just a few moments before coming back to the safe place/person for affirmation;
- this affirmation gives them the courage to go a little further, for a little longer, next time;
- and (so long as the affirmation they receive outweighs any trauma experienced "out there") so it continues, a little further for a little longer, until they've passed milestones like their first sleepover at a friend's and are off to college before you know it (or so I'm told by old timers!), and beyond, now only coming back for special occasions within the family.
That's the sort of church commuity I love to see nurtured: one that (for example) lets people go off in little missional communities and have a go, returning to a "mother" community regularly - though perhaps with less frequency over time - to touch base with each other. In other words, an ongoing, developing, dynamic, natural family relationship.