08 August 2010

“How do you restore a Golden Boy?”

My question of the day seems to be: “How do you restore a Golden Boy?” I’m not sure why this particular question at this particular time, but these are some thoughts…

What is a “Golden Boy?” A Golden Boy is someone who has great expectations of achievement placed on him by others and/or himself. A Golden Boy “shines” – you can just see him in a crowd! – He excels academically, cosmetically, athletically or spiritually. Most times, he is an awesome combo of several (if not all!) these characteristics. He is expected to do great things, has all the right background, grooming, breaks and connections. He is destined – so it seems – to excel.

Golden Boys – and Girls for that matter – seemed to live a charmed life. They have all the right stuff. Everyone expects them to do well. They are high school senior class superlatives, college fraternity presidents and football stars. They are photogenic, charismatic and gifted. They are the ones who marry their sweethearts, rise to the top and are known as “born leaders.” In their “world of choice” they make the right moves, know the right people and communicate with fire and passion.

You know these people. Maybe you’re one of them. DAVID: perfection by Michaelangelo

So what happens when a Golden Boy never seems to get out of the chute? What happens when a Golden Boy doesn’t live up to expectations – both of himself and others? What happens when a Golden Boy becomes an “Also Ran,” never quite living up to expectations?

Or what happens when he comes out like gangbusters but fails to launch, only faltering and sputtering, never really finding himself, his course or his mark? What happens if marriages fail, finances falter and careers get off-track?

Or if he fails repeatedly? What happens if he has moral failures? Not just once but over and over?

How does he get back to where he once was – in potential and performance? Seems to me that on-ramps to success are harder to find in our world than before. And I don’t see room for many second chances. But there have to be some.

So as I meditated and thought on this question of the day - “How do you restore a Golden Boy?” this story from the life of Elisha came to mind:

(2 Kings 6:1-7) The company of the prophets said to Elisha, "Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live." And he said, "Go." Then one of them said, "Won't you please come with your servants?" "I will," Elisha replied. And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. "Oh, my lord," he cried out, "it was borrowed!" The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it. (NIV)

As leaders, whether in our family, our home, our workplace or our church, part of our job is in restoration and reconciliation. Cleaning up messes and putting things to right. So here are my thoughts on getting Golden Boys to the right place – or at least to an on-ramp…

  • Evaluate Relational Connections –
    • It is important that connections be made and maintained. The relationships that we have are part of God’s networking way. He brings people together for His purposes. If there are tarnished Golden Boys in your relational network, I can almost bet that you are there as part of their redirection and restoration.
      • Elisha was more than just a prophet in this story. He was more of a mentor, companion and a coach. (It appeared that the “company of the prophets” wanted him around – even on a supply run for the new digs. Just wanted – it seems – to hang out with him.)
    • If relationships are broken – assist them in mending them and restoring them.
    • People assist people to get where they are going in their personal journey.
  • Ask the right questions without rebuke, reserving judgment –
    • As a strategic outsider (Elisha didn’t lose the axhead; he was not part of that story… although he was nearby, he we not part of the loss), don’t give instructions, but ask the right questions:
      • What was the last thing you did when you sensed the edge, the sense of achievement, the sense of God’s favor?
      • When was the last time you sensed that you had the edge?
      • What would having the edge look like in your life today?
      • What steps could you make to restore the edge?
  • Help lead them toward Repentance –
    • In an “I’m-Good-Without-God-World”, it seems hard for people to repent.
      • “Since I’m good – and probably “Golden” – it must be someone else’s fault that I’m not succeeding.” Repentance is a hard sell to Golden Boys – even failed and tarnished.
      • Repentance requires ownership of the deeds, attitudes and motives that led to their demise. What happened actually happened because of something. Probably not random acts of the universe. Probably.
      • You cannot repent of something that’s someone else’s fault. Just can’t.
    • How does one really repent, besides just saying I’m sorry?
      • Go back to the place where you lost the axhead – the edge, the sense of achievement, the sense of God’s favor…
      • Sometimes this is an actual place, but at least a real set of circumstances…
      • Sometimes there is a genuine need for restitution…
  • Help lead them toward the goal –
    • When Golden Boys actually lose, it’s often a whole new experience for them.
    • It is hard to focus on moving forward when maintaining is such an effort.
  • Look for a miracle…
    • Floating axheads do happen, but not everyday
    • The right stick in the hands of the right man cast into the right river at the right place at the right time can make iron float.
    • There is a “window of opportunity” for floating axheads
    • The time for reaching out his hand and taking it is limited
    • Getting the edge, getting back on the on-ramp are often about getting the hindrance – whether internal or external – out of the way and moving forward…
  • The right coach can help Golden Boys become golden once again.

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