By Oliver DeMille

inspire, not requireToday I read a sentence that really impacted me.

It made me pause and really consider.

I mean, I’ve read a lot of books about the American founding fathers and mothers, but I’ve never read this before.

It’s incredibly deep and important.

Of all the things that helped America and the early founders succeed, one historian suggested that this one thing is the most important reason for America’s victory and later success over two centuries.

Here it is:

“Improvisation was the strength of the Americans: the ability to respond to novel situations with novel solutions, on the spur of the moment, without orders or directions.”

When I read this, my first thought was about today’s children.

Are they being taught this lesson?

Do they know how to improvise? To respond to new situations with new, excellent solutions? To see what’s needed, weigh the options, make a decision, and then take the right actions on the spur of the moment without adult orders or direction?

Are we giving them a real leadership education?

Because this describes it to a “T”.

As I pondered this top skill, I realized once again just how essential it is to “Inspire.”

Without it, we could never truly teach young people to have initiative, use ingenuity, and do whatever is needed without waiting for help.

Stephen Covey called this same thing, “Be Proactive,” and he listed it as the first of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Without it, leadership is dead. Without it, education is shallow.

Without it, morality won’t last and freedom will dwindle.

But do we teach it well enough?

Many schools actually teach students not to use this skill, as John Taylor Gatto taught in his book Dumbing Us Down.

That’s sad.

In fact, it’s tragic.

Why would we train the last three generations of children not to use initiative, improvisation, ingenuity?

What were we thinking?

The answer is that we wanted to train followers, docile employees, well-socialized sheep, not leaders.

And, in truth, leaders can be difficult.

I’m reminded of that many times in dealing with my daughters Meri and Abigail.

I’m sure you have kids like them—leaders.

Who think independently and take action without permission.

At least, I sure hope you have kids and youth like that.

I believe that when God sees the need for changes in the world, he does something really special.

He sends down a baby.

A little person with just the right talents, tendencies, interests, passions, and strength of will to change the world.

And in times like ours, well, I’m pretty sure He’s been sending down a bunch of babies like that.

We need them, desperately.

The question is, are we giving them an education to match their mission?

If not, we’re failing them.

And we’re failing the world.

Even worse, can you imagine how sad it would be if God sent down some of these babies to your home or mine and then we trained them to be followers—not leaders?

I’m going to pay even more special attention to “Inspire.”

Are there any born leaders in your home who need less requiring, less ignoring, and a lot more inspiring?