I was talking with a close friend over coffee recently about a teenager he was working with. He was hurt because the young man didn’t really want to grow, he just wanted things my friend could provide.
We continued our conversation over email the next few days. My friend, who is an intellectual genius, made a statement about how he views a lack in desire to learn is a type of death to him.
I thought others might benefit from my response to him as I shared some of my struggles with “growing people.”
My Good Friend:
Not being willing to learn means they aren’t willing to grow, and in our world things that don’t grow die. In nature stagnation usually means death.
Not being willing to learn is like a flower expecting to flourish without water.
The problem on our end can be when we expect someone to learn faster than their maturity will allow. Or we expect them to want to let us water them in an area that we have interest in, but they don’t.
I was a C student in high school and college. I thought I was stupid until I stumbled across sociology. I made the honors society in sociology and didn’t even mean to, or try. In fact, I called them when I received the letter because I thought they’d made a mistake.
Now, I am considered an expert in human behavior, but as far as math, grammar or physical science goes I am still not very smart.
So maybe we mistake the flower refusing water from the hose as refusing to want to grow, but what it really wants is water from the creek or the rain from the sky.
Maybe the nutrients in the water we are offering isn’t what that flower needs to flourish, or maybe our water can only help them grow to a certain level.
Very rarely are we to be the farmer for someone’s entire journey.
Our job is to water the flowers within our reach that will allow us to. The tough part is not getting offended along the way and to stop watering.
It hurts when we give and give only to have people use us. I have been tempted to stop filling up my watering can because the people around me didn’t appreciate it, or didn’t even utilize what I offered.
I have learned that if I stop watering, then the effect on me is worse than the rejection from others. So, I just take my little can and see if there is someone else that needs water.
This means I have to let people go. I have to be willing to fail with this one to free myself up to find the next one.
The truth is: I didn’t fail, they did. Just like I have so many times in my past when others wanted to water me and I wasn’t willing or able to accept it.
It’s a vicious cycle, but a worthwhile one. And if we are doing it for the right reasons, the eternal rewards are amazing- even if we don’t get to see any here.