Saturday, August 6, 2011

Objects of Confidence

But Nathanael Greene was no ordinary man. He had a quick, inquiring mind and uncommon resolve. He was extremely hardworking, forthright, good-natured, and a born leader. His commitment to the Glorious Cause of America, as it was called, was total. And if his youth was obvious, the Glorious Cause was to a large degree a young man's cause. The commander in chief of the army, George Washington, was himself only forty-three. John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, was thirty-nine, John Adams, forty, Thomas Jefferson, thirty-two, younger even than the young Rhode Island general. In such times many were being cast in roles seemingly beyond their experiences or capacities, and Washington had quickly judged Nathanael Greene to be "an object of confidence."
David McCullough, 1776, (New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2005), 21.
It has been my experience in life that more often than not things that are deemed a "young man's cause" are often derided as foolish, naive, and not based upon sound judgment. With age comes experience & a better ability to make decisions the rationale goes. As a result, young people must "wait their turn" before getting heard, approached or in some cases considered. How many ideas of youth get flushed down the toilet as a result of this harsh treatment? Now to be fair, many ideas or causes of today's youth are roiled with rashness, stupidity and are clearly not well thought out. Despite this, though, we must remember how many times history has shown the idealistic nature of young minds and their impact on the shape of the world today.

The key then becomes learning how to become, like General Nathanael Greene, "objects of confidence" for the world around us. I struggled with this concept when working at the church, and became embittered by the lack of trust or dependency upon my ideas. My experience & capacity were deemed to be small and I was never really trusted to do or lead beyond the small realm of seemingly indestructible ministry. Looking back I can see where blame might be needed for those leaders with small vision above me, however, even more I can see my own failure to become that object of confidence. If I believed in myself as not being just an 'ordinary man' - I needed to make sure those around me (and especially above me) saw the same thing. My skills, character, and attributes needed to be honed, developed and then allowed to shine. Certainly this would not (and even today will not) guarantee success. Older people have a sense of entitlement that they have paid their dues, have their experiences and trust their 'sounder' judgment. So it is my duty to not get acrimonious but instead show an example in all I do and say that develops confidence.

The world is a broken place. Many systems are breaking down and confidence is waning in every sector. What is needed is for the capable to step forward and show their ability. It is then, despite the potential obstacles of longevity in experience or proven capacity that trust will be developed or at the very least initially bestowed. And when that happens, much like Nathanel Greene, we will become objects of confidence.