Can I Do You a Favor?

chinese boat

Once again my kids were crying over their math. I didn't feel much sympathy, though I'm not so keen on math myself. Just do it, was my frustrated answer.

But I've always felt that when kids get to this point, fussing and crying, they're not being rebellious. They're telling us something important. So I had to step back and admit the truth: if they could just do it, they probably wouldn't be crying.

So I did my kids a favor. I hired a math tutor.

In Chapter 5 of Henry Cloud's book Integrity: the Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, he discusses how we can build trust through extending favor. It's the kind of favor that looks out for the other person's interests, not just our own. It is, says Cloud, grace.

"Leaders without grace," he asserts, "set [a] demand and do nothing to help people meet it." Like me, when my kids cried over their math and I said, Just do it.

There's nothing wrong with requiring the do it part. It's the just part we need to reconsider. As leaders, we would do well to drop the just and use these words instead: with, through, by.

My kids now do their math with a tutor. They do it by being with someone who loves math. Through the guidance of a person who has both math-patience and math-passion, they are more than meeting the standard. My Eldest will finish her course almost six months early this year and have time to do Logic and Physics math. My youngest admitted confidentially to the tutor, "I guess I really like math now."

If there's an area in your business or work life where people are "fussing and crying," maybe what they really need is a favor. Maybe you (or I) should just do it.

Chinese Boat photo, by J. Barkat.

Integrity, opening post
Being Nice is Not Enough

Labels: , , ,


Blogger Maureen said...

An excellent illustrative example.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That photo is perfect. Has the photographer considered submitting to HC? :)

This is something I need reminded of occasionally--especially with the kids. Grace. Yes, that's good advice.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Dan Roloff said...

Great advice, thanks.

1:54 PM  
Blogger David Rupert said...

Of course, hiring a tutor, or asking for help, or admitting that you can't meet the demands, are all signs of weakness.

And to appear weak is a major problem in honest, transparent relationships.

Thus we have a world that doesn't help -- and they won't get it anyway because they don't have any relationships they can trust

3:20 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Damoff said...

This is such a good word! Thanks.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

Listening to the unspoken "why" behind resistance goes a very long way.

And I'm pretty sure I need to be reading this book.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Joules Evans said...

I also hired math tutors for my kids because I too wanted my kids to learn math from somebody who loved math. Passion is way more contagious.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

I could have used a math tutor in my youth. I couldn't "just do it," though I certainly sat down and tried to plow through.

You are good at seeing needs and doing all you can to meet the need (or at least ease the frustration).

6:59 PM  
Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

This hit home. So many misunderstandings and assumptions were made from childhood on - causing damage and wounds. I don't say this lightly, but I have a few symptoms of almost autism. I know the deer in the headlights feeling well. Others read it as rebellion or stubbornness. Speechless, I couldn't explain. The few people in my life who have come along beside me and helped me in the way you wrote about have my undying gratitude. I want so much to give it back to those who need it. Your children are fortunate.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Melissa Campbell said...

How wonderful! From my own experience, the teacher makes all the difference. This is so like what I can see God doing for us. Bless you!

3:05 PM  
Blogger Joelle said...

Mmmmm. I wish I could have hired a tutor for my students who struggled with math. Math wasn't difficult for me as a child, and I lacked patience for my kiddos who couldn't get the concept after several desperate attempts at explanation. I finally asked a grandma to work 1-1 with a couple students. Magic. A humbling experience, but important to find the freedom to ask for what I needed--help--and to grant that same grace to my students rather than persist in holding unrealistic expectations.

8:36 PM  
Anonymous April said...


11:17 AM  
Blogger Debbie Simler-Goff said...

On a very stressful Monday, I found this while searching for something to nourish my spirit while on my lunch break.

What an excellent post. Your words refreshed me.

3:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home