Saturday, May 14, 2016

On A Road to Nowhere?

Today I took my wife on a road to nowhere. She has always said she'd follow me anywhere and today she proved it when we went to Nowhere. She did quip that with the many times we've gotten lost on family vacations (yes, usually with me driving) this could be the place we've been looking for our whole lives!

You can read about the Road to Nowhere here, but the summary is that it's a failed government project and a broken promise. 

It was a beautiful drive full of gorgeous scenery and not a few befuddled hikers who wondered aloud about the road that led to the tunnel that went to nowhere.

"How do I make sure I'm not on a road to Nowhere?" I have to admit to being in possession of a mind that wanders to the thought of legacy and purpose and impact. The older I get the more I have tended to wander that way.

A recent experience in the NC mountains at my mother-in-law's house is a good illustration. While beginning the process of cutting down some high-up black walnut tree limbs overhanging the covered porch, I had a purpose in mind. I wanted my son to learn, to know experientially how to do this, so that when I'm no longer here, he'll know how. Another family member was far more focused on safety and so stepped in, barking orders, taking over and while we got to the place of cutting down the limbs safely I'm not sure much was learned. I'm not sure we got anywhere, at least not to the place where I was focused. The road just ended when it could have pressed forward.

In order to get to legacy, I had to go through safety, but safety was not the final destination. We learn not by being ordered but by figuring our way through something new, under the watchful eye of someone else who can step in when safety could be compromised.

It's not unlike the side-seat driver who sees the car unseen by the driver and yells - "STOP!" (Of course, I'm reminded of a time when I was driving and my wife yelled, "DUCK," so I ducked, not seeing the ducks in the road!)

While exploring The Road to Nowhere with my wife, my mind wandered to marriage. A marriage is on a road to nowhere when it seeks happiness rather than holiness. God's creation of marriage isn't to make me happy. I won't always be happy in marriage. Sometimes she's (I mean it's) downright irritating!

Marriage, I believe, provides a way to holiness because my wife won't let me get away with sloppy living. I can ignore her, but then I'll end up nowhere. If I choose to break my promises to her, I will end up nowhere rather than the somewhere we were headed.

The road to nowhere is full of pull-offs called Short-sighted and Self-centered. When I want what I want NOW, my HERE becomes NOWHERE. I lose sight of the goal. If I spend everything and more than I have NOW for HERE, I'll end up NOWHERE. If I get focused on my dreams and wishes, forgetting "mine" is now "ours," I'll sacrifice something greater together in exchange for nowhere.

As a Pastor, my mind wanders to the pursuits of people which are focused on NOW and HERE outcomes such as pleasure and power. If I spend my days pursuing today what will be gone tomorrow, exchanging the eternal for the temporary, I will end up nowhere (I really believe I'll end up somewhere but it won't be anywhere anyone would like to be).

As an Executive Leadership Coach, my mind wanders to the behaviors of leaders that short-circuit their leadership impact. When a leader is focused mainly on defending their position or themselves because they take things personally, that leader is on an unproductive path and it leads to nowhere. Through intimidation or anger, a leader isolates themselves because of fear and insecurity (among other issues).

Each of us is on a road but to where does it lead? The road to nowhere is strewn with broken promises, myopic vision and fear. The road to somewhere is not always enjoyable. There are pitfalls and drop-offs, dangers galore, and the end isn't always in sight. It's a dream really, a vision of a preferred future. As a husband, I'm glad to be traveling our road together. As a father and grandfather, I'm honored to get to assist my children and grandchildren with encouragement and modeling to stay on the right road. This creates legacy. They get to continue what I won't get to finish when my race is done.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:7-8