Many of us go through life having experiences but missing their meaning. If you believe Romans 8:28, then you know that God uses ALL things for the good of those who love Him. He uses good experiences and bad. They are a tool to shape us more like Christ and a test to reveal the quality of our heart.
But we are so busy! Most of us don’t take the time to stop and reflect. We have the experience but miss the meaning because we moved on to the next stimulating activity or responsibility in our lives. It’s like going on an incredible trip to a distant country, having fantastic experiences pregnant with significance for our lives and then packing them into our suitcase for the trip home. When we arrive, we leave the suitcase in a corner unopened and grab a new, empty suitcase, where we will pack in all the potentially meaningful experiences of today.
But when will we ever find the time to unpack? Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…
It’s very optimistic of us to think that things will slow down tomorrow so that we can pull out all the great experiences of the past to reminisce and learn their deep truths, but it probably won’t happen. And who knows? Yesterday’s experiences might have an expiration date. God may have given them to us right before we needed them. By the time we stop to examine them, they might taste very bitter to us as we realize how much we needed them when we had an opportunity or were put to the test.
The key responsibility of parents, mentors and supervisors is to help their children, their mentees or their staff unpack the lessons that experience is meant to teach them. By creating space in busy schedules, these leaders help their followers learn the importance of fully receiving each experience that God gives them. They contextualize by adding their insights and their own lessons learned; they ask questions to reveal the hidden value of seemingly meaningless circumstances; they challenge their followers to ask “why” until God’s purpose is revealed.
If you are in a leadership role, stop working so much and start coaching more. Most of us in leadership roles are too busy with our own responsibilities to unpack lessons with our followers. It’s great if you are shoulder-to-shoulder with them, having the experience together, but even more important is being face-to-face, examining what’s in their suitcase.
The question is, do you care about them enough to want them to grow and learn and develop as God intends? If so, don’t waste anymore of the teachable moments He sends you.