Welcome back to our six session in Leadership in an age of Wolves.
When wolves arise, leaders must emerge. Otherwise, it's bondage and destruction ahead.
Do you see the parallels to what is happening in our society today?
Back to our story…
Papa looked at Jeff hopefully and explained that the choice is always ours.
If we each do our part and contribute, we can live a pretty good life.
Some must step forward and take on more than the average person; some must choose to lead.
Good leaders unite people, inspire prosperity, and help us all advance.
He continued. But we're also free to choose a darker path.
Madeleine, who had been sleeping next to Jeff, opened her eyes, stood up, and arched her back in a long deep stretch.
Papa thought it was a good time for a break too.
The cribbage match had slowed as Papa spun his tale. But play continued.
Jeff inquired if Papa thought we were in the dangerous phase of the cycle again.
Papa introduced a book written by a couple of think-tank guys from DC; titled The Fourth Turning. He went on to explain that the authors outlined a theory about social cycles.
Like the seasons, we are immersed in social cycles. These cycles are bigger than individuals or communities, or even nations. We are all affected by these cycles.
We move through four phases: Good times, when people pull together; good times are followed by an awakening when individuals begin to break away; the awakening leads to an unraveling – a slow unsettling and division. The predominant attitude becomes ‘every man for himself.' The final phase of the cycle is a crisis: a decision point.
The cycle culminates in chaos, where people are left to choose to unite or divide, pull together, or fall apart.
Choice determines the people's fate.
Papa admitted he believed we are approaching that decision point again.
Jeff looked concerned.
Papa went on to explain The Fourth Turning detailed the truth his father had expressed back in May of 1944.
Jeff, increasingly uncomfortable; raised the concern that the cycle Papa illuminated seemed beyond our ability to influence.
If we can't influence the cycle, do we really have free will?
Jeff asked if we are fated or perhaps doomed to follow a predetermined path?
Papa didn't think so.
We are on an adventure of God's design. Our purpose is to explore and experience, learn and grow, create and contribute, and then we return to God.
Papa continued, "We keep digging the same holes, making the same mistakes, fighting the same petty battles, unfortunately, many of us resist advancing."
Jeff wanted to hear more and ask Papa what he meant.
Papa replied that creation has two constants: change – which is this reality – and guiding love to shepherd us through this journey.
Everything is in motion and constantly changing. We automatically and by design, move and explore. We are guided, but ultimately we get to choose – the simple path of sheep; the hard path of a leader, or the selfish path of the wolf.
We get to decide.
Jeff, understanding Papa's meaning, added that we have the capacity to learn and grow.
Our bodies change, our desires change, and our perspectives change.
We can move with life; we can set the pace, as a leader; or we can resist. We have the free will to resist.
Papa pointed out that many stop exploring, stop experiencing, and resist change. We find a comfortable position, and cling tightly to what we have and what we know. We stop moving forward. We stop learning and growing.
This thought of resisting growth and change puzzled Jeff. He asked Papa why we might resist.
Papa had taught Jeff to never assume it's "they" who have it wrong; we all make mistakes, we're all culpable. All people, have a responsibility and share in society. Good or bad, it's always "our fault.
Papa offered – people want freedom – the call of wolves; but what they don't realize is freedom always comes with responsibility. You can't have one without the other. Freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.
By taking responsibility, you hold onto your power, and you gain freedom.
Papa went on: sheep prefer the easy way.
We are the sheep; we are the "Path of least resistance creatures."
We human beings hate change.
But for individuals to realize their full potential, they must express their gifts; share their talents, and contribute to the community.
Expression of those gifts and talents guide us through the challenges in the cycle.
When one of us stops advancing toward his or her potential, we all pay the price.
Despite our hard-headedness and our hard-heartedness, we are called, guided, and offered a better path."
Jeff, with some relief, asked, "So there is always hope?"
Papa smiled and reassured Jeff: "There is always hope, my good man. There is always hope."
Papa recalled a time when he and Jeff had gone to Cedar Point amusement park. He reminded Jeff about their first ride on a rollercoaster together.
Jeff lost his lunch – after they got off the coaster, though.
Papa used the coaster to illustrate his point.
As the car climbs a hill, it stores up potential energy, the car releases that energy as it coasts down.
Then it climbs again.
Life is like a rollercoaster of cycles – highs and lows and back to balance again, however briefly.
Isn't it magnificent?
We experience extremes; then, we choose again.
We can progress forward as long as we work together – as long as we collaborate and cooperate. Or we can fall apart, go out on our own, every man for himself, and endure the pain of that choice.
Life always presents a means to move back into balance.
It's always up to us to choose.
Heady talk about weighty subjects.
Jeff was inching ahead on the cribbage board. But Papa kept him in his sights.
Sometimes it's not game play or strategy that determines the outcome so much as the cards.
Let's pick up the deal in lesson seven.