written by Kat Bair
6 · 10 · 24

As a toddler parent, I see tons of TikTok-style content that tells parents exactly how they should speak to their children; what phrases “you should never use” and what “one weird trick” will lead to an emotionally regulated child. I get the appeal. As my toddler daughter stood in our living room shrieking because the shoes that she picked out are suddenly unacceptable, I can admit, an easy manual of how to debug this child would be useful.

But the black magic of the algorithms means that content creators are intentionally overplaying the importance of every sentiment, suggesting we could permanently damage our children with every misplaced word, or that we our children would float through the world seamlessly if we just said the magic words. We get the advice that we shouldn’t say “good job” when our kids do well, but praise them for their effort in trying. To be sure to compliment their character and not their results. To not refer to foods as good or bad, but as different parts of a balanced diet, to always give options and not demands, to provide reasonings for all of our directions, and on and on. 

None of these things are bad, and they all emerge from good places – be it research, personal experience, or general efforts to make a safer world for our children. But when as a parent, you see all of these things all day, it makes you feel like you need to carry around a script just to talk to your kids. 

We are not the first generation of parents to do this, parents throughout history have sought scripts. And it is always because we care so deeply, and so badly want to get parenting “right.” We are all, at one point, brand-new to the work, and we are desperately looking for answers to how to do this, our most important job, well. But there is a certain pathology in attempting to parent “perfectly” according to the scripts, because it assumes that what all children need is exactly the same. 

If you learned your spouse was responding to you off a TikTok-generated script, or your best friend was, would that make you feel loved? Probably not. And if you confronted them about it, and they said “they just wanted to get the relationship right” it would be fair for you to respond with something like, I don’t need you to be perfect, I need you to be you.

We don’t need perfection, what we need is authentic connection with the people we love. Maybe we need to embrace a bit of idiosyncrasy in our parenting, our partnering, and yes, in our leading. 

In a lot of our coaching work, we have clients asking how to do the work of innovation “correctly” – they are looking for what they are supposed to say or do, to get their committee on board, to include community leaders, to launch their organization. We tell them over and over again that we aren’t going to tell them what they should do. Because we aren’t called to their community, they are. 

We lead, preach, and innovate, differently. The best thing we can do is be the healthiest, most authentic version of ourselves, actively seeking where the Spirit is leading us, understanding that it might look very different than another leader in the same community. You are part of where your community is called. 

We’ve written before about a client who was from a community of pig farmers, and how, when he was presented with sows, he knew just what he needed to do. If I had been called to that community, innovation would have looked very different, and all of that is good and is God’s design. You are not meant to disappear into your work, your congregation, your project. When you are healthily differentiated, and know your gifts, talents, habits, and styles, you can lead more authentically, and know where you need to bring in outsiders. You are not meant to follow a script, you are meant to pursue Christ as faithfully as you can, and trust that the Spirit will lead you along the way. 

Authenticity is never perfection, and aims at perfection will give you neither. You are called to pursue God, and in that, you will find not that your own self recedes, but clarifies itself. You will be able to embrace it with more love and grace than ever available before because you will be able to see yourself as God sees you. 

We would love to be able to talk to you about your community, your call, and where you feel like you are being called next, in a free consultation with a member of our team.


Kat Bair

Related Posts

Ceci n’est pas una pipe

Ceci n’est pas una pipe

This past weekend, some of my colleagues at Ministry Incubators and I had the pleasure of kicking off a series of on-site gatherings for the Compelling Preaching program in the Mountain Sky Conference of the United Methodist Church. As we got to a section of the...

Point of Origin

Point of Origin

A little more than a year ago, I told you all about the Compelling Preaching Initiative that was being funded by the Lilly Endowment. I told you all about how excited I was to be working with the Mountain Sky Conference on their application and how Bishop Oliveto (who...

Clarity is Kindess

Clarity is Kindess

We’ve talked on this blog before about the importance of being crystal clear on who you are as a community before embarking on the work of innovation. About how, when a community doesn’t have a clear sense of mission and values, change is difficult, because, without a...



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *