Lesson #1 from Disneyland: Correcting Too Late

Kara Powell | Sep 7, 2011

So our kids are still not back in school. They start tomorrow, September 8. So we have been enjoying this last week when most of the world is back in school as our chance to hit amusement parks. Notably Disneyland and Raging Waters (a water slide theme park near Pasadena). With only 5-10 minute lines for rides at both places, it’s been one of the highlights of the summer.

I did Autopia with our 5 year-old, Jessica. I have so many fond memories of Autopia, especially before I was able to get my own driver’s license. The feeling of power that came from driving as a 13 year-old; I can almost taste it now.

With Jessica, I did the gas pedal (she was too short to reach it) and she did the steering. Or rather, she let the car steer itself. Which meant that the car bumped along drifting to the right, until it hit the cement island running under the center of the car with its left wheel and then bounced violently back to the left. Jessica, deciding to turn the wheel AFTER (and not before) we hit the cement island, would then jerk the wheel to the right, thus repeating the process. So we were basically like a pinball, bouncing left and right through the course. We laughed and laughed. The more violent the jerking back and forth, the more we laughed.

Here’s the leadership lesson: Jessica corrected the steering wheel AFTER it was too late. She had no ability to perceive the drift of the car until it was too late. And then by steering, she actually did more harm than good.

How true that is for us as leaders. We often have no ability to perceive drift. And then when we correct, our helping actually hurts.

As I was laughing with my husband about what happened, I told him that I wanted to write a blog post about it. And then I thought about 3 questions that Chap Clark and I encouraged leaders to ask in Deep Ministry in a Shallow World:

1. What type of transformation is God bringing about now?

2. What is creating space for God’s transformation now?

3. What is hindering God’s transformation now?

These are good questions to ask yourself - at any time. Like now. Before it’s too late. And you overcorrect and do more harm than good.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.

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