My wife says I write too slow.
She’s right (she’s always right); I do write too slow.
Words are hard for me to write, type, and publish because I know that once they’re out there, there’s no taking them back.
I normally erase, delete, and edit the crap out of almost everything I write. Even a simple Facebook update can take several hours before I actually hit publish.
That’s why, you may have already noticed, I love to post quotes; somebody else already said it about as well as it can be said and I don’t have to change anything.
Some call it perfectionism.
I call it prudence… and I blame it all on my childhood.
My Daddy was a Gospel music singer when I was a kid. I spent several years traveling full-time on the road with my family doing concerts at churches, conventions, and special events.
One of the things my little brother and I learned really quick was to keep our mouths shut. Back in those days, children were to be seen and not heard from unless first asked to speak by an adult.
The only problem was that we were all essentially entertainers. I spent a lot of my childhood on a stage with a microphone in my hand. I had to talk!
The good people out in the audience, the folks giving all the money, came for a good show and they wanted to hear from the kids.
Here’s where my penchant for prudence first started developing…
Bad Night To Be A Kid
When you’re 8 or 9 years old, you have bad nights – nights when you’d rather be back at the motel watching Scooby-Doo.
You don’t always feel like helping set-up all the sound equipment after several hours traveling in a cramped vehicle with your whole smelly family.
You don’t always want to take the shower, dress up, sit still, smile, wave, act nice, shake hands, talk, and sing – the same songs all over again – the songs you’ve been singing all summer long.
When the microphone gets handed to you on one of those bad nights, there’s no telling what a kid might say or do.
The way things worked back then was that we sang for an offering.
The pastor or leader of the event would pass the offering plates around the congregation or through the crowd halfway through the concert. Right before the plates were passed, my brother and I did a short interview segment with our Dad. These talks gave the audience a chance to know more about us before deciding how much to give in the offering.
Usually, the interview with Dad was very cute and went well, but there were times when I could tell by the look in his eye that maybe we shouldn’t have been so cute in our responses.
Apparently, there’s a fine line between entertainment and being offensive… one that I crossed many times as a kid.
Say the wrong thing, and that offering might be really bad.
There were many nights when the offering was barely enough to buy enough gas to get us down the road to the next concert. I’ve slept in our vehicle at a road stop with my family more than a few times because we didn’t have money for a room.
My mom packed government cheese and bread sandwiches with a bag of carrots for our trips just in case the money got tight. To this day, I can close my eyes and smell that stupid cheese.
You haven’t really lived until you’ve left home on a road trip for a destination you only have enough gas money to get to, but not enough to finish the trip.
Say the right thing, and that offering could be really good.
A good offering meant that we could stay in a nice motel – maybe one with a swimming pool, eat at a better restaurant, get a little extra money to buy baseball cards, and it always meant that my parents would be in a better mood. King Solomon was right when he said, “Money solves everything.”
I can hear you now, “Kids shouldn’t have that kind of pressure on them.” Of course, you’re right! Kids shouldn’t have to deal with those things.
Kids shouldn’t be put in a place where what they say and do has everything to do with whether they eat that night or have a nice place to sleep.
Kids shouldn’t have to feel the pressure their parents feel… but they do. Maybe not to the same degree, but your kids feel your pressure and stress.
It doesn’t matter whether you drag your kids with you out on the road selling roofs or they grow up at home while you work a “regular” job. Either way, you have pressure… and your kids feel your pressure.
No More Chasing
I’ve tried to do everything I can do as a Daddy to keep my children from experiencing those same pressures. A few years ago, I made up my mind that I’m not going to chase storms anymore.
I decided that I’m going to sleep in my own bed at night as often as possible. I’m going to tuck my kids in bed and say their prayers with them. I decided that I’m going to be present in their life and see them grow up.
You think that decision hasn’t caused more than a little stress for our family?
It certainly has, but it has been worth it.
We may have missed out on some amazing storm opportunities, but missing my kids grow up would be even worse. If you ask them, they would rather have me here with them anyway – even if we all feel the pressure and stress occasionally. Kids just want to be with their families.
Protect The Kids
Because of my childhood, I’ve done everything in my power to keep my kids from experiencing the same kind of pressure.
For instance, my daughter really wanted a new phone for Christmas this year, but she refused to admit it when her Momma asked. My daughter simply said, “No, I don’t really want a new phone. This one is fine and the new one isn’t that much better. I’m all good.”
My wife and I could both tell the new phone was important to her; so we pulled a few strings, sacrificed, and made it happen. When we asked her what her favorite Christmas gift was this year, she said, “My new phone!” with a big smile on her face. She later told us that she didn’t want us to feel the pressure of having to get her a new phone, but she was really glad we did.
Try as you might, your kids will feel some of your stress, but that’s okay because you’re trying awfully hard to take care of them and they know it. Do the very best you can and remember that your kids would rather be with you than without you.
And that’s why I write so slow… you never know what kind of impact the things you say and write will have on people.
I hope this one has been good for you.
If you like it or you have something to add to the story, I would love to hear from you.
Mike CodayMike started selling roofs in '95 while working as a youth pastor at a small church in North Texas. A decade later he transitioned to speaking at industry conferences and training outside sales teams. Today, he works exclusively as the premier consultant to roofing company owners who are driven for growth.
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