Start Thinking About Being a Superb Grandparent

An excerpt from Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning

The true test of leadership is grandparenting. Everything else falls short.

And it is not enough to grand-parent just your posterity.

Grandchildren get married; superb grandparents know that they need to grandparent potential spouses long before their grandchildren are married.

Grandchildren work; superb grandparents know that they need to grandparent potential bosses, managers, colleagues and employees long before their grandchild enters a career.

The same is true for everyone your grandchild will meet in life, and everyone who will impact your grandchild’s life.

This is what community means: Grandparents teaching and raising everyone in their grandchildren’s world….

This is not limited to people who are over sixty years old.

Far from it. All of us need to start grandparenting as soon as we are in Scholar Phase.

Young Adulthood is the call to grandparenting, to begin preparing a better world for your future grandchildren.

The call to grandparenting is the impetus to Scholar Phase, to ‘put away’ childish things as Paul of Christendom taught and ‘seek for a better country.’

A life spent making the world better for your future grandchildren is a life of service, leadership, and greatness. It takes a full lifetime to really make change.

This is the message and purpose of life and the most important thing any of us can ever do.

It is the reason for our lives.

We better get started on it early, or as soon as we realize what it is all about.

Lee Pitts tells the wonderful story of a farmer in the Great Depression who is busily working on his farm in the summer heat. His friends gather at the local coffee shop and worry about him.

Doesn’t he know that prices are too low for him to make a profit on his crop?

Doesn’t he know that if he plants a crop he can’t get government subsidies? It’s hot, it’s humid, his planting will actually lose him money—has he gone crazy?

One of the farmers agrees to go ask him these questions.

It turns out that this hard-working farmer is aware of all of the many reasons that may justify others not to plant, but he keeps working.

His friend finally asks him, exasperated, what he is planting. “Oak trees,” he replies.

You can imagine what his friend must think: “What? Oak trees? You’ve gone ’round the bend! Your work will have no value until at least fifty years have passed!” The farmer replies that the oak trees aren’t for him.

They are for his grandchildren.

oak treeOur purpose in life is to plant, nurture and become oak trees, and to help others do the same.

That is grandparenting: planting oak trees!

We are growing the oak trees of the future today.

All of us should realize our true purpose and mission—to make the world better for our grandchildren and their children.

This is Leadership Education. This is what it really means.

This is true even in the midst of struggle and challenge, financial depression or world war.

During the most trying times, it is even more crucial.

What if the fourteen-year-old knew this? How would it change his education?

Or the eighteen-year-old college student?

Questions of “what are you majoring in?” or “what will your career be?” would take on whole new dimensions.

If the twenty-four-year-old knew this, he would approach dating, courting, commitment and marriage differently than many do in our modern world.

What if the thirty-three-year-old mother knew this, and her husband? Making a living would be just that—a way to pay the bills while you work on what is really important.

Making a living is a waste unless we also make a life—a great life, a leadership life, one which transforms the world of our grandchildren to something really, truly better.

What if the fifty-four-year-old knew this?

Those grey hairs would indicate that the time is getting close: “The time for my real purpose is almost here! What else do I need to do to be ready? How must I change things in the next twenty years so my grandchildren inherit the world I envision for them?”

The eighty-one-year-old would say: “How can I change the whole world so my great-grandchildren have someone worthy of them to marry? To employ or work for? To enjoy freedom and community with?”

Grandparenting changes everything….

  • When was the last time you did something hard, really hard, specifically for your grandchildren and their children?
  • What should you do for them—right now?
    [Whatever your age!]
  • Who do you need to be—in the years ahead?
  • What price are you willing to pay?
  • What lesser things can you—should you—sacrifice?
  • What efforts will you invest to become the grandparent that will ensure the opportunity of meaningful lives to future generations?

Your decisions now— today—will help determine their destiny. We each have a unique and personal mission of impact that no one else can do as well.

When we discover this and give our lives to it, we are leaders. This is the Path of Leadership.

Whatever our age or phase of life, we must enter and stay on the Path of Leadership*. The future of the world depends upon it—upon you.

I am an acorn
full of potential, in need of nourishing
with sun and soil and rain
I sprout, upward and down

I am a seedling
surrounded by siblings
sending shoots and roots
I explore, grow and expand

I am a sapling
reaching for the sun
tall, trim, flexible
I yearn for more

I am a tree
roots diving deeper and deeper
my canopy spreads
I grow in strength and stature

I am a tree
standing in a forest of fellows
unique in purpose and place
I lift nests, and climbers




I am an oak
soaring above the valley
victor over fire and flood
I breathe life to all around me
seasoned, wise
Mostly I raise acorns

This poem appears on the back cover of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning; images taken from the front cover of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning.

*For more on the Path, see The Student Whisperer.

For more on raising the next generations, read “Steel to Gold” by Rachel DeMille. Click here to proceed to that article >>