I had the blessing of having parents of a 14 year old young man bring their son to me because of their concern of the wrong choices he appears to be making.  I praised these parents for their alarmed response to early signs of bad decisions.  Most of the men at The Way began their bad decision making around the ages of 13 and 14 which led them down the path of addiction.  Oh, if only more parents would respond with such alarm.

We have actually begun an outreach led by one of our graduate residents to young teen groups.  He schedules speaking opportunities with various youth programs at churches and in the community.  Many of the men of The Way share a passion to reach the 13 and 14 year olds who are beginning to make the decisions that could lead to a life of bondage to drugs and alcohol.  By sharing their personal stories and urging different decisions, they are hoping to intervene before the damage is done.

The 14 year old that was in my office had been disciplined at school for truancy as he made plans to run away from home.  He claimed that some friends had hatched a plan to go to an undisclosed trailer, and that one of his friends said that he had money saved for them to live on.  There was no evidence of any of these facts, but in order to fit in and be cool, he had joined the effort.  Besides things at home weren’t that great and he wanted to try it on his own.

But after working on the plan with his friends for most of the day, he eventually got scared and tried to slip back into school towards the end of the day.  It was then that he was caught by the school officials and his parents were notified.

After having praised his parents for taking such decisive and firm action, I praised him for the courage it took to face his fears and break with his friends.  For a young man of 14 years old, nothing is more important than being respected and admired by one’s peers.  The fact that he chose to be viewed a coward by his primary audience in order to do what seemed a better plan is most commendable.

After they left my office, I reflected on all the bad decisions I had made in my life because I was trying to impress people who for the most part I can’t even remember any more.  If only I had courageously chosen to do what is right in the face of rejection.  It occurred to me that it takes a lot of courage to be willing to be viewed a coward.

But I dare say most great leaders had to face the choice of not being popular in order to do what is right.  I’m glad to know at least one young man and his parents who are choosing the same.

Tom Reynolds