Category: Life Lessons

The 3 Primary Roles of Fathers

One of the key ingredients to being a strategic and intentional dad is teaching our boys to apply biblical truth to everyday life. I have often found that life as a follower of Jesus often gets fuzzier the closer it gets to real life. As fathers, we must understand that we must fulfill three primary roles in the discipleship of our boys.

Dads must be primary teachers.

A father’s goal for his boys should be to root their identity in the existence and glory of God. Far too many times, I parent as if God doesn’t exist. We should never allow our children to believe in a God who is distant and uninvolved. That means we must make it abundantly clear that God is with us in the mundane, ordinary tasks of the day. Our boys must see us glorifying God in all areas of our life. We must seek to embed the story of our sons in the larger story of God.

Dads must be primary counselors.

A father must realize that he is the negotiator in a house full of sinners, of which he is the worst. God’s plan for the family is to be a picture of redemptive community. In order for that to happen, fathers must lead their families in gospel centered conflict resolution. Our sons must see a godly example from us on how to talk with another, serve one another, make decisions and deal with differences. We must make sure that we do not give into surface solutions rather than dealing with our son’s heart.

Dads must be primary coaches.

Great coaches prepare, model, and adjust. Dads must prepare like coaches by parenting with the end in mind. We must know our “personnel” and prepare them to be people of hope even in the midst of a fallen world. We must also parent with a humble awareness of our own sin. Last time I checked, I don’t recall Romans 3:23 saying that just our boys sin. Boys must hear from their dads that only through Christ can we truly experience freedom from the things with which we struggle. The hope of the gospel must be the constant theme in the life our family. Finally, we must be willing to adjust and make sure that we never let the minor trials of life take our mind away from the major issue at hand, casting and modeling vision for our boys about what it means to be a godly man.

These three roles will play a critical part in how we teach and shape the worldview of our sons. My prayer is that we all take each role seriously and that we strive to glorify God through the way we invest in the lives of our boys.

Are you willing to let your kid hang?

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Are you willing to let your kid hang?

Sky hanging.

Ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until I read this article and saw this picture courtesy of mustang wanted.

Apparently, a Ukranian daredevil has decided to get his picture taken from high places while he dangles from his hands and feet. I must admit that looking at the pictures freaks me out. I can’t even imagine the phone call from one of my kids telling me they are going to do anything remotely close to this.

The more I looked at the pictures and the more I thought about the craziness of this stunt, the more I began to think about how much control I actually try and place over my children.

Let me explain.

When God called our family to move into the inner city of Memphis, our parents were not pleased. They have since changed their opinion but it was tough at first. As our children are growing older, I began to think about how far I am willing to let them hang?

I can talk a big game but am I really willing to let them make decisions that others might consider “dangerous”? If they want to go live, love, and serve somewhere for the sake of the gospel, will I be excited for the opportunity or worried about their safety?

How about some questions that might hit even closer to home?

Am I willing to let my child fail? When he makes a bad decision, do I let him suffer the consequences or immediately try and bail him out? Do I even allow him to be in a position to fail? I think our default is to clean up the mess without letting our children get dirty.

Letting our kids fail and work through difficult situations helps them develop resilience, a trait that many college coaches say is lacking in college students today. While it may be a result of laziness on the child’s part, I believe that parents should bear the weight of responsibility on this one.

Part of being a strategic parent means giving our kids the opportunity to fail under our roof and teaching them how to deal with it. Teach resilience now so they don’t crumble later!

 

The Beatitudes and Raising Boys

The word beatitude is translated, “blessed are.” The word means “happy.” The idea is not that we are simply happy in the sense that we are happy after a good meal or after we have laughed at a funny joke. It refers to a deeper happiness, a happiness that comes from peace with God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges his listeners and us as well. As you read the Beatitudes, you might be thinking that this is an odd list of traits.

Typically, Christians want things like the fruit of the Spirit or other traits such as honesty, humility, and reliability. Those are definitely traits that we should strive for. However, the list that Jesus gives in the Beatitudes is quite different. This should lead us to ask, what is Jesus really saying here in this list? Is Jesus saying, the blessed person has these eight traits: they’re poor, they mourn, they’re meek, they don’t assert themselves, they hunger and thirst for righteousness, they’re a peacemaker, they’re pure in heart, they’re merciful, and they’re persecuted?

This is not a list that you hear fathers talking about with their sons.

“Great job being poor in spirit today son!”

“Excellent work being merciful today son!”

“I am so proud of your peacemaking skills!”

You don’t hear this because we are wired as a society to raise boys who are tough, hard-nosed men. While those are not necessarily bad things, they do tend to take our attention away from other critical areas. As fathers, we need to be raising sons who are aware of their sin. Jesus says in the beatitudes that the starting point in the kingdom is to know that you cannot rely on yourself, to know that your spirit is poor. You cannot be good enough, strong enough, and righteous enough to make it on your own before God or in His kingdom. If you recognize your own spiritual poverty, you will mourn over it, and that will lead you to be meek. Our sons need to be taught this and they must see it in our own lives.

Are we more concerned about raising athletes and students than we are about raising future men that hunger and thirst for righteousness? Are we modeling a life of mercy because we have been shown mercy by our Savior? Are we waging war with the culture to make sure our boys are striving to be pure in heart? I pray that we do not get so wrapped in the world’s picture of manhood that we forget what Jesus values as important.

True Friendship According to 2nd Grade Boys

Our virtue this month at PDS is the True Friend. Stephanie Taylor’s 2nd grade class came up with the following definitions for true friendship. I thought they were worth sharing. I am so thankful for the opportunity to lead our Building Boys, Making Men Program where we strive to teach our boys what it means to be a godly man and how that fleshes out using our 7 Virtues of Manhood.

Friendship is having the courage to…

do the right thing when no one is watching.

lay down your life for one another.

follow your dreams.

stand up for someone else.

help others up.

do what you say.

help someone when they are sad.

say your sorry.

have compassion when someone is hurt.

go play with someone who doesn’t have anyone to play with.

be nice.

forgive.

help someone even if they say they don’t need any help.

make mistakes.

jump off something 14 feet tall before another to show it’s not scary.

be willing to try new things.

be faithful.

help others when they need help.

help someone even when you don’t have.

stop someone from bullying another person.

Teaching Our Boys to Live with Passion

Manhood: A real man glorifies God by seeking an adventuresome life of purpose and passion as he protects and serves others.

 

A critical part of the manhood definition that we are teaching our boys revolves around the word passion. I think we often set a bad example for our sons by living a life that seems to be dull and boring. Our sons should never equate being a follower of Christ with the word boring.

 

“We are caught up at a particular state in our national ethos in which we are not only materialistic but worse than that; we are becoming emotionally dead as a people. We don’t sing, we don’t dance, we don’t even commit sin with much enthusiasm.”

-Tony Campolo, sociologist

 

There is nothing more motivating than to see someone doing something with passion. It can be someone who is passionate about his or her job. It can be someone who is passionate about there country during the World Cup. It can be someone who is passionate about a particular cause. There is something about the person that you draws you to them. Although the previously mentioned examples are good, is that what we should be truly passionate about? Our passion for what we say and do should flow out of our passion for Jesus Christ. How we think, how we act and how we serve should stem from our passionate love for Jesus. Jesus was so passionate about us that he endured great pain and suffering on our behalf.

 

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made the commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it is very hard for people to stop you.”

-Bill Cosby

 

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.”

-Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch

 

Can you imagine the impact our sons could have on the city if our fathers and their families’ souls were on fire for Christ? Romans 12 urges us to be “living sacrifices.” This idea is counter-cultural. We live in a society that wants something for nothing. We have athletes that want to skip the hard work of training and get ahead by using performance-enhancing drugs. This is just one example of many. God wants us to give up what the world values as important so that we can be passionate about the things that He values. This comes at a price. It might not be popular but it does have eternal value. May we all “no longer conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

 

 

The Difference Between Boys and Men

A list that I jotted down while studying Solomon and chapter 2 in the book of Ecclesiastes.

1) Boys want to be noticed, men want to be respected.

2) Boys want the “buzz” of life, men want fulfillment.

3) Boys are self-centered, men take initiative for the benefit of others.

4) Boys want a temporary escape, men want lasting satisfaction.

5) Boys want romantic love, men desire to lay down their rights.

6) Boys want greatness, men want lasting joy.

7) Boys want human intellect, men seek the wisdom of God.

 

Thoughts on 40

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I turned 40 last Friday and my incredible wife took me on a birthday trip this weekend with two of our close friends. We had an absolute blast. On the drive there and back, I had time to reflect on 40 years of life. Rather than bore you with all the details, I thought I would share some of the key things that were important to me (in no particular order). Maybe one of these will strike a chord with you.

1) God’s grace is far greater than my feeble mind could ever imagine.

2) My mom died of cancer when I was ten and I never really dealt with it in a proper way.

3) Good and bad, I am more like my parents than I care to admit.

4) The time with my kids is dwindling and I need to value every moment with them.

5) I have wasted too much time on social media.

6) I have not invested enough time in relationships.

7) My students know me better than I thought and actually listen to what I am teaching.

8) I don’t know my Bible well enough.

9) I have a major people pleasing problem.

10) My wife is such a servant leader and I have not done enough to help.

11) Moving to Binghampton has been an incredible journey.

12) I never thought I would grow as close to a group of  men as I have with the Tiger football players and staff.

13) I have realized that the tone at which I speak is very important.

14) Marriage and parenting expose my selfishness more than anything else.

15) Teaching boys what it means to be a godly man is a true joy.

16) Memory making is crucial in parenting.

17) Lack of discipline has invaded too many areas of my life.

18) Making disciples must be a priority.

19) I have too much stuff.

20) I need to spend more time loving and less time criticizing.

Anything strike a chord with you? I am so thankful for 40 years of life and I pray that I can use this next season of my life to live more for God’s glory than my own.

Questions to Wrestle With

  • Do you find yourself more often than not, choosing what is popular over what is right?
  • Do you desire to fit in both at church and outside of church?
  • Do you care more about what people think of your actions than what God thinks of your hearts and lives?
  • Are you moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet you don’t act?
  • Do you think doing what God says in His word is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones?
  • Do you rarely share your faith with your neighbors and friends because you don’t want to be rejected or make people feel uncomfortable?

 

Scared to lose your grip?

mustangwanted-8

Sky hanging.

Ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until I read this article and saw this picture courtesy of mustang wanted.

Apparently, a Ukranian daredevil has decided to get his picture taken from high places while he dangles from his hands and feet. I must admit that looking at the pictures freaks me out. I can’t even imagine the phone call from one of my kids telling me they are going to do anything remotely close to this.

The more I looked at the pictures and the more I thought about the craziness of this stunt, the more I began to think about how much control I actually try and place over my children.

Let me explain.

When God called our family to move into the inner city of Memphis, our parents were not pleased. They have since changed their opinion but it was tough at first. As our children are growing older, I began to think about how far I am willing to let them hang?

I can talk a big game but am I really willing to let them make decisions that others might consider “dangerous”? If they want to go live, love, and serve somewhere for the sake of the gospel, will I be excited for the opportunity or overwhelmed with worry about their safety?

How about some questions that might hit even closer to home?

Am I willing to let my child fail? When he makes a bad decision, do I let him suffer the consequences or immediately try and bail him out? Do I even allow him to be in a position to fail? I think our default is to clean up the mess without letting our children get dirty.

Letting our kids fail and work through difficult situations helps them develop resilience, a trait that many college coaches say is lacking in college students today. While it may be a result of laziness on the child’s part, I believe that parents should bear the weight of responsibility on this one.

Part of being a strategic parent means giving our kids the opportunity to fail under our roof and teaching them how to deal with it. Teach resilience now so they don’t crumble later!

What are some areas where you need to loosen your grip with your kids?