Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Daughter, the Junior Philanthropist
It’s a lot of fun to watch children grow up as a parent, especially when they start to come into their own as a person. I have two kids and both are pretty amazing in their own ways. My 9-year old son loves sports and works hard at each of them and is very naturally gifted in the athletic arena.
My daughter continues to amaze me with both her thoughtfulness and unselfishness and her willingness to sacrifice for others. I wish I could tell you I taught her that, or it was an intentional outcome of great parenting. However, she has exhibited this characteristic since she was very young.
I remember her making cards for her friends that were sick when she was in Kindergarten and first grade. She made a sympathy card for one of her teachers when she was in the 4th grade that showed an enormous amount of compassion and empathy.
What’s impressed me most, though, is her willingness to raise money for a specific group of kids in Haiti. My wife has visited an orphanage in Haiti over the last few years – Hands Across The Sea. It is an integral part of her year, and my daughter has involved herself in a number of ways, even though she hasn’t been able to go (yet).
Molly decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to help one of the students pay for school. The amount she needed to raise? Two hundred seventy five dollars. That’s a decent amount for anyone to fund-raise, but for a 9-year old? I didn’t want to discourage her, but I had my doubts. Yet I also knew my daughter and, once she decides to do something, she’s almost impossible to stop.
After a year of lemonade stands, selling rainbow loom bracelets, collecting change, dog-walking and more, she did it. She saved up for a whole year and not once did I see her get down or discouraged. She accomplished her goal chunk by chunk, bit by bit.
You should have seen her face when we counted the money and she was only $10 shy of reaching her goal. She was overjoyed! And, being the good dad that I am ;), I committed the final $10 to the cause.
Just this weekend, she made cake pops for her teachers for Valentine’s Day. She had help from a couple of friends, but she did the majority of the work herself. (And they’re a lot of work!) They were pretty amazing too! (Just ask our neighbor who recently ate 9 in one sitting.)
And she’s back at it for the kids in Haiti. Last night, she went to Hobby Lobby with my wife and used $25 of her own money to buy them art supplies, toys, and fun crafts to do. She loves it. And she can’t wait until the day that she can go with my wife to meet these kids in person. And they will love her!
To say I’m proud of my daughter is an understatement. But it’s not about what she does or is doing.
It’s about Who. She. Is.
She’s making a difference one life at a time. And here’s what I’ve learned and continue to learn from my baby girl.
Do What’s On Your Heart
Whether it’s big or small, act on your intuition. Help when you can and where you can. Don’t worry about the what or when or why. As you seek to do what’s on your heart, doors will open and you might be pretty amazed at the result.
Give What You Can, When You Can
Again, it doesn’t have to be a huge sum of money. It might just be a little bit of your time or a smile that can make a difference in someone’s day. Write a note to or text a friend and let them know you’re thinking about them. Send a card with a handwritten note. Or cake pops. You could make some cake pops. 🙂
Think Outside of Yourself
This is so hard sometimes. The older I get, the harder it seems. When you have work, sports, music lessons, and more, life can get in the way. It’s easy to get lost in the busy-ness of life. But it’s important to remember and to think about how we can love and serve others. For Molly, it’s easy because that’s just who she is. For you and me, it might take a little more effort.
Persistence is Key
Chunk by chunk. Bit by bit. Stay on that goal until you achieve it. Does it matter if you don’t get it done by the time YOU want it accomplished? Don’t give up – keep after it – even if it takes much longer than expected. Think about how incredible it will be when you’ve achieved it.
Invite Others to Share in the Journey
My daughter is a very social creature. She loves being around friends and including them in her projects. What a great lesson to learn. Isn’t life more fun when we share the journey with others? Oftentimes, we start to wonder what people will think if we tell them about an idea or something we want to do. Ask other people to be involved – let them decide whether they want to or not (and don’t get discouraged if they say, “no”.)
Those are just a few of the lessons I learn from this crazy cool kid. I love watching her grow up and can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do with her in the future. Whatever it is, though, I know one thing. She will embody all the things I’ve listed above and more. Because that’s who she was created to be.
One more thing. Her birthday is coming up next month. Guess what she wants to do for her “party”? Go take some friends to feed the homeless at a local shelter. Yup. She’s THAT kid. And I love it.
What leadership lessons have you learned from your kids? What is one way you can implement the lessons above? Let me know in the comments below.