Life is comprised of opportunities to create teachable moments if we are intentionally looking for them. This is extremely important if we are parents and/or leaders in other organizations. Now I will start off by admitting I am not impressed by Colin Kaepernick and I do not agree with his recent decision to disrespect our nation’s service men and women by sitting during out National Anthem before his NFL games. It is unfortunate. I am however also disappointed in how so many of my friends whom I agree with have decided to respond to his decision to protest social injustice in this manner.
If you will allow me I would like to offer a few lessons all of us can learn from this recent news story that can help us live more successful and God honoring lives.
1 Personal Responsibility
We cannot control what anyone else does. Colin has made a decision. There will either be direct or indirect consequences of that decision and that is his freedom to choose his actions in this great country. There is little anything you or I say or do that will cause him to change his mind. He may be foolish and misguided in his recent actions. He may or may not intend them to offend certain groups of Americans. It is not our place to apply emotions and intentions to his actions. In fact the reality is if he is truly wrong in his actions they would literally have zero effect and impact on anyone if we all had higher levels of emotional maturity and a greater ability to think about people’s actions, decisions, and statements that are relayed to us through the media.
We must first and foremost take personal responsibility for how we CHOOSE to react to Colin or anyone else for that matter when they do or say something we disagree with. I am seeing too many well intended people whom I agree with just rally together all of their friends who agree with them to all tell each other how much they all agree with each other. This is an exercise in futility. Here is a hard lesson we must all learn in leadership and life.
Instead of just sharing media blasts by people condemning his actions why don’t you seek ways to connect with people who have different world views than you and establish a positive relationship so you can influence their thinking?
I also encourage you to consider the example we set for our children and team members when we react in a disrespectful manner to someone. What are you so truly upset about? Colin may be wrong and he may be out of line, but he can only offend you if you choose to be offended.
2 The Wise Vs The Mocker
A lot of people are passionately responding to Colin’s actions as if he was a wise person. Unfortunately the conclusions he has drawn lead me to believe he lacks understanding. I am not saying he is an evil man or a bad guy. I do not know him. He may very well be sincere in his beliefs, but unfortunately sincerity is not a test of truth. Only truth is a test of truth.
Proverbs teaches us to not attempt to correct fools and mockers. We and our children will continue to encounter foolish people throughout life. What if we saw moments like this as opportunities to discuss how and what people think with our children?
This is a commonly quoted verse of scripture about parenting and there is a lot of context and layers we must understand in it. This does not just mean for us to tell our kids what to do and believe and everything will be ok. One of the most important aspects I see a lot of parents miss is they spend the majority of their time telling their kids what to think and do not spend nearly enough time helping them learn how to think. We must see teachable moments everywhere to create discussions and help our children learn how to think through opinions and lies they will constantly be bombarded by when they leave our homes.
We live in a society today that is high on tolerance and low on respect. Being respectful is a great separator when it comes to leading others. Even disrespectful people will often times be respectful towards people they can benefit from. How do you treat people you cannot benefit from in any way? Colin’s actions are very disrespectful towards our service men and women who fight to protect our freedoms we all enjoy (Including Colin Kaepernick) as Americans. Unfortunately his lack of respect for our country and the brave individuals who protect it cause many of us to lose respect for him. That greatly hinders his ability to effectively communicate his points. Now even if we disagree with his position he is still a man created in God’s own image and he has value as a person. I am personally intolerant of his disrespectful actions, but I am thankful we live in a country where we truly have the freedom of speech.
What if chose to focus on the blessings we enjoy as Americans where even foolish people are free to share their opinions and we are free to reject their opinions. Instead of focusing on his disrespectful actions what would happen if we asked ourselves, “How can I turn this into an opportunity to teach ourselves and our kids about the importance of being respectful?”
Society and culture will not teach our children how to be respectful. In fact it will teach them exactly the opposite. As leaders in our homes and our communities we must hold ourselves to higher standards. Never tolerate disrespect, but be slow to lash out and attack other people’s decisions out of anger.
Question: Those are just three lessons that come to my mind first when I think about these recent events. There are clearly many more lessons that can be shared. What are some other lessons you see in this story you could teach to others? Comment below.