Bitterness is not easily evadable. Who can remember being a young gun, ready to take on the world, armed with enthusiasm and willingness to take a punch? Small setbacks didn’t deter you; you were just getting your feet wet, and you were willing to ride it out. Eventually your day would come; besides, it was always about the journey and not the destination. You were blindsided by that first left hook, however, and you fell hard. You realized that a couple of punches turned into seemingly countless blows, and before you knew it you were down for the count. You lost that twinkle in your eye; that bounce in your step. Instead of targeting your next opportunity, you found that you ran out of motivational clichés to fuel your fire. Eventually, you succumbed to a bleak day-to-day life, sans passion. The road was too long and the terrain wore you out, so you just quit. You still watch your counterparts and you are envious when they succeed. You know you should be proud of them, but you secretly rejoice when they, too, fail. The underlying question is how to maintain our drive when we’re seemingly depleted.
Over the years, I’ve been deliberate regarding mentoring. I knew early-on that performing and recording were secondary to mentoring. Thus, I always have a teenager or young adult at my side, particularly at concert events. One season, I took a fifteen-year-old on the road with me as my hype-man for 150 concerts. We performed all over the United States. This kid rocked for both roaring crowds and crickets. He slept in both luxurious hotels and on basement floors. He met famous people and disenfranchised ones. He had a rich experience, and now he’s thriving. These encounters weren’t his sole preparation for his next season, but I like to think they were a contributing factor. I had another youth I took on the road for the better part of two years who was given identical opportunities. I put him on big stages before he was ready because I recognized his need for a self-esteem boost. I accepted him for who he was, and I defended him when he was misunderstood by others. I did everything in my power to build him up. Now, he’s sinking.
The formula was the same: spend deliberate time. All-night rides talking about our lives, our loves, and our dreams. Seeking God’s face and learning to trust in His goodness. Having the courage to make plans and fight for them. Also having the courage to release these plans to our Maker and request His guidance. Sometimes, it transpires just as we envisioned it. Other times, our decisions take us down avenues we should never have traveled. It is then, unfortunately, that we take the wheel. Our confidence turns to cockiness, and we stop consulting God. Then, inevitably, we are disappointed in ourselves and we lose confidence in our own abilities to make informed decisions after we crash hard. This results in paralysis, and we miss out on what God was planning all along. Living in the Let Down is an awful place to live. Jesus said to seek His kingdom first, and the rest will follow. His wisdom, His grace, and His strength are only attainable if we FIRST seek His kingdom. We should never be let down, only acutely aware of the need for His guidance. So it didn’t go how you envisioned? Seek righteousness, get up, and refine your vision.