In the beginning, we don’t own anything. We don’t get to decide what to wear or when to poop. Rules and perspectives and behaviors are either instinctive or taught with a tight set of boundaries. We are watched, guided, reared.
The fundamental experience of a child is borrowing from their parents. As we try to find our way in the world, the attitudes and choices of our parents serve as placeholders. They help us navigate the world with some level of boundaries.
This is the way of the world. From trade to faith, athletics and education, we follow the lead of those ‘above’ us until the proper time when we must decide for ourselves what is worthy of our time, talents, perspective, and attention. The Bible says that people perish without vision. When we are too young or immature to be responsible for our own vision, we must borrow from those around us. Otherwise, we slip into danger and chaos.
We borrow from parents, friends, television, and sports. We borrow from teachers, pastors, and supermodels.
This is all well and good. The problem occurs when we allow these placeholders to become permanent.
As tenants borrowing vision, it is easy for us to get stuck – comfortable, dependent. The landlords also start to thoroughly enjoy the relationship. This is the poison of leadership. We are not meant to be lifelong lenders (nor leasers). We are meant to lend as a means to an end.
The end is ownership. Our borrowed vision helps us to practice navigating boundaries and testing passions. We can do this with the supervision of the more experienced.
One day, our apprenticeship will end. Our maturity will develop. And it will be time to step into the fullness of ownership, self-governance, and self-awareness. We must make our own choices in the end. This is part of the beauty and purpose of becoming a unique creature in the world.
The transfer of responsibility takes a lot of courage. It is easier to borrow vision because it allows us to borrow risk, to pass on the pain and the failure if it arrives. We can call the super and get them to fix the building.
The result is a mass of tension. We feel this deep desire to own our own vision but are crippled by a fear that wants to hang on to our borrowers. The result? We blame the borrowers and the world around us for not providing the solution. That’s what they’re supposed to do, right? That is what we have been promised.
I talk to so many young adults who are lost. They have no idea what they want to do, much less who they want to be. They are as terrified of ownership as they are desperate for it.