Real, to state the obvious, is not fake. It is not a toy.
We give our kids toy replicas of some of the things they will need to handle every day later in life. Toy cars, toy money, toy phones … We can’t give them the real version, at least not until we’ve taught them how to properly use it. To give something real is a commitment to teach and to mentor.
I received a BB gun for my 10th birthday. I opened it in front of all my extended family, and shortly afterward, my Dad quietly asked me to step out on the back deck with him.
Away from everyone else, he first asked me if I liked the gun.
It was a classic Daisy rifle, and I was ecstatic. Dad smiled.
Then he took a serious tone, and looked at me very directly. “This is a real gun,” he said. “Unlike all the toys you’ve played with as a younger child, this one actually shoots and you could really hurt yourself or someone else.”
It was a sobering, enthralling moment.
“Some of the people in that room,” he motioned at our relatives, “don’t think that you are old enough to handle a BB gun. They don’t think I should have given you the real deal. But I believe you can handle it. I’ll teach you. Now listen …”
And with that, my Dad pulled off one of the miracles of positive youth development: he made me better by believing in me. He made an occasion and expected me to rise to it.
And I will never forget those moments with my Dad, moments of confidence and resolve as I received his time and attention and instruction. Moments made possible because a Dad ventured to trust his kid with something real.
The term investment has a similar gravity about it. To invest is to link my well-being or success to the well-being or success of another.
If you give a man a fish, you help him for a day. That’s charity.
If you teach a man to fish, you help him for a lifetime. That’s good ministry.
If you teach a man to fish, give him a job in your fishing business, and send him out in your own boat and gear, now you’ve made an investment. If the rookie fisherman flops, it hurts your business. Of course, if he thrives, your business thrives proportionally.
This is what we want to do for these kids (because it’s what we would do for Isaac) – show them that we believe in them and commit ourselves to their success by making a real investment in them.
The IKE Box is not a toy investment. We are committed to teaching good work ethic and exemplary customer service skills, because the IKE Box is a real café business that depends on it. Our success is directly tied to the success of the kids we serve. So we’re committed – we’re invested.