To be sitting in the hospital waiting for a white blood cell count that will determine the fate of my three-year-old son clearly wasn’t planned. With the need for surgery hanging in the balance, as a young dad, I’m entirely unprepared for this moment. It started weeks before with these every so often moments of instant, incredible, crippling stomach pain. In the ensuing weeks, they’ve been lasting longer and growing more frequent. We took him to the doctor, but the episode had passed. The doctor, sensing our concern, sent us to the nearest hospital to have his appendix checked. At the hospital an attack takes place, and the results of the first white blood cell test are off the charts positive.
They move us to a room and begin preparation for surgery. The nurse struggles to insert an IV line because my son is fighting for all he’s worth, so they wait for the anesthesiologist because he is an IV master. In the meantime, a couple more white blood cell tests have been done, and the numbers are falling, sending a signal that the appendix crises is in question.
When the time comes for the anesthesiologist to do the IV, he asks me to hold my son down while he gets the line in place. Being eager to help, I jump right in.
As the needle is inserted into my son’s arm, he begins screaming, “DAAAAAADY, SAVE ME, DAAAAAADY, DAAAAADY, SAVE ME, SAVE ME. Over and over and over he’s screaming for me to save him. When the procedure is finished, I hug my genuinely confused son, and then I escape to the hallway realizing, as a young dad, I am totally unprepared for this.
As this realization begins to take root, I pick up the phone and call a man who has been there for me—a leader, mentor, and now someone I need badly. When he answers the phone, I was able to get “Mike, I’m at the hospital with my son . . .” out of my mouth before I break down and sob my heart out.
Patiently he calms me down enough so that I can explain what has happened, that we’re now waiting on another white blood cell count, and we need to decide if we do surgery. He prays with me, tells me to sit tight, then he and his wife race to the hospital.
How do we prepare for the unknown, and what is the recipe to help us navigate these situations? Here are a couple of key ingredients to help us survive and even succeed when we’re unprepared:
Quality of Our Leadership
When you think of leadership, you may picture a boss or position, but it’s so much more than that. Leadership is the framework to knowing what’s needed, the right timing of when it’s needed, and how it needs to happen. The quality of our leadership skills influence every area of our life and, consequently, has an immense impact on the surprises and unexpected twists and turns life sends our way. When situations that we’re unprepared for come, the quality of our leadership skills can make the difference.
“You don’t rise to the occasion; you fall back on your training.”
—Quote often used in the military
Quality of Our Character
The quality of our leadership is built on the foundation of our character, which means the influence of our leadership is in direct proportion to the quality of our character.
When the life’s problems are more than our leadership skills can handle, that is when the foundation of character is exposed.
- When we’re scared, character reacts.
- When pressure is applied from all sides, character is forced to the surface.
- When we’re lost and don’t have the answer, character comes knocking.
Quality of Our Relationship with God
When the curve ball of the unexpected is screaming our way, God is the most foundational ingredient we need in place. Time spent in His word, prayer and growing to be like Him is central to being prepared for the unknown.
All three of these qualities are intricately connected. Develop a deep desire for God, and you will develop a quality character. High-quality character feeds the framework of leadership.
God was at the hospital that day; the results of the white blood cell test came back lower yet. Trusting God for His best, two more tests were done that night, and the final test came back completely normal; no surgery was needed. We removed the IV and went home the next morning!
For more on how to be prepared, check out:
How To Prepare For The Unexpected
Brutal Hope: 3 Ways Leaders Turn the Impossible Into the Possible