A few weeks ago I met a lady who told me about her eight children. She and her husband have four biological children and four adopted children. Two of the adopted children were their foster children first. I asked her, “Now that they are grown, do your biological children ever tell you, or insinuate to you, that by having adopted siblings, they had less of you and their dad?”
Her answer was moving and thought-provoking, and I want to share it with you here.
She started telling me about her oldest, now a Marine, a tough guy with a soft heart. He told his mom he feels his adopted siblings were always meant to be their siblings; they just started their life somewhere else. She described how everyone in their family learned empathy and how to support people who’ve experienced trauma.
She said of her son in the Marines, that when he works with a fellow soldier whose behavior is out of control, his team looks to him to stay calm because at home he learned how to work with his adopted siblings who came from trauma and did not yet know how to handle their emotional outbursts.
Then she shared the words that truly hit me hard: “Wes, we did it even though it was hard. One of our family values is that we do what is hard.” She continued to describe what that means to her family. “We do the hard conversations. We do the hard life assignments. We do whatever is required, even though it is hard.”
Wow. What a family value. What a team value. What a life value. We do what is hard. It’s how she raised her family, and it’s a beautiful and powerful approach to life.
When I finished talking to this wonderful lady, I quickly jotted down what she shared because I knew I needed to reflect on her story and on this simple yet powerful phrase. As I meditated on her words, I thought about how our natural tendency as people and as leaders is to do the opposite. We either aim to do what’s easy, or we do what is hard until we can—or so we can—soon do what is easy and comfortable.
As a leader, a parent and a Christ-follower, I want to adopt the value this mother shared. I do what is hard. Any time and every time. When I am called by God. When it is needed by my team. I want my family to do what is hard. I want my company and my church to do what is hard.
Adopting the value we do what’s hard should never imply we remain in a state of exhaustion or an unhealthy state of ‘hard.'
Healthy ‘hard’ is when we consistently say to God, “Pick me. I will go, regardless of how hard it is.” Healthy ‘hard’ is when we willingly tell our team, “Pick me. I will take this project on. I am not worried about how hard it is.” Healthy ‘hard’ is where great leaders live and how they spend their life forging through fire, breaking down walls and arriving at new frontiers.
Written by Dr. Wes Saade, Buckner International board chair and family physician.