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My Job as a Hiking Guide

Last week I went on a hike with my son. Well, it wasn’t a big hike, certainly not like those dog friendly hikes designed to give four-legged friends loads of time to explore outdoors. This was more like walking through the woods to the end of our property. To a three-year-old, however, it is a big adventurous hike through a forest! We put on his sturdiest shoes, a warm hat and grabbed his walking stick, and then, tromped through the woods exploring old decaying trees, random vines popping out of the ground, little bugs, and mushrooms.



He’s boy enough and 3 enough to want to do everything “by myself”; so, he hopped over logs that were too big for him and bushes that were taller than he was. Invariably, when the trail got too rough, he’d reach his hand out for me. He clung tightly to me and let me lead him the way I thought was best. I loved having his hand wrapped up in mine. I know it won’t be like that forever, and I want to remember when my little boy needed me.

As we held hands I wanted to shout to him,

“I will always help you! I will always lead you! Don’t let go of my hand! Not ever!”

I’m taller than my three-year-old. I’ve hiked our woods before. I know what rocks look sturdy and which might tip over. I’m big enough to help my little boy. He can try to go it on his own and he might make it a little way. But soon, he will need direction. He will need wise eyes and steady feet. This is what I want to be for my son. I want to walk life with him. I want to show him the right paths to go.

Pretty soon he won’t want to hold my hand. He’ll just follow along behind me–mimicking my footsteps and choices of the road less (or more) traveled. Even still, I’ll be close by ready to steady a shaky step.

Equipping (like with a walking stick), guiding (the hand-holding) and modeling (with someone right behind you) seems obvious when we’re teaching a new skill–hiking, riding a bike, or swimming.

I think it’s the same idea for the other more important areas in life.

We equip our kids with lessons, morals, and strategies to journey through life. Then, we walk with them–just a hands-breadth away, leading them down the right paths and over the big hazards. Soon, they will be able to navigate more and more on their own.

I want to use my time when my kids are young to equip, lead and model. Then, just as a train stays on the track on which it is set, I believe children will stay on the paths on which we lead them. I pray I can be willing to let go at the appropriate time and guide them purposefully so they can navigate themselves and then lead others, too.

How do you empower your kids to make good life-long decisions?

Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at and Impress Your Kids. In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!