Category: Parenting

The Family Google

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What if….?

Why do….?

Do you remember when….?

What was it like….?

Question after question after question is asked at my house. I would feel certain that it is not much different in other houses. We are bombarded with seemingly endless questions from our kids day after day. It can be fun at first but can often lead to frustration. We are busy people with busy lives and we often dismiss the simple questions thrown at us throughout the day. Perhaps, we are missing out on a greater opportunity.

Think about this idea with me for one moment.

We are the family Google.

Our children want the answers from us. They want to know that we have the answers to life’s simplest and most complex questions. They want the security of asking without the threat of feeling foolish.

Technology has given us access to information at the click of a button but it cannot give our kids what they desperately need: a deep, meaningful relationship with their parents. Intentional conversation is a key component to being a strategic parent and it starts early. Answering questions and leading conversations will lead to consistent conversation as your children get older.

The worst mistake we can make as parents is to give in to the technological pressure of today’s world and miss opportunities to get to the heart of our children. Technology has provided an easy escape from the work of having conversations with our kids. Sadly, it has only increased the relational gap between parents and children and we are seeing the effects.

So what do we do it about it? Here are some proactive steps to take:

  • Don’t use technology as a crutch to avoid having conversations. I know it is easier to let them watch a movie or play on an IPAD but it does not help foster strategic conversation.
  • Stay off your phone when you are with your kids. They will imitate what they see from you. If conversation with someone else is more important than conversation with them, you are setting the table for them to go elsewhere for important conversations.
  • Ask great questions. Try to phrase your questions in a way that force your kids to answer in more than one word. You must train them to talk without using one-word answers. If you start this habit early, it will pay off greatly as they get older.
  • Answer questions even if you are at the point of frustration. You never know when that heartfelt, meaningful question is going to come out. Shutting them out with frustration might eliminate an opportunity for an important conversation.
  • Take time and schedule for strategic conversations. You have to be proactive in this area. Schedule time to do something with them that they like to do and use that as an opportunity to cast vision and discuss strategies for dealing with issues that will occur in the upcoming months and years.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be the family Google. Use those opportunities as a springboard for intentional and strategic conversations with your kids.

10 Questions That Every Father Must Ask Himself

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Eight months ago I had back surgery to repair a ruptured disc. For the weeks leading up to it, I was in a great deal of pain. The first time I went to the doctor, I went through some tests and an MRI to find the cause of the pain. Once the doctor diagnosed the problem, fixing it was pretty straightforward. The doctor had to cut me open and take out the disc that was causing the pain. Not long after that, I was able to be up and walking without pain or discomfort. While I still have some discomfort every once and awhile, walking has become far more enjoyable.

I don’t like being in pain. In fact, I don’t like being in discomfort at all. The good news is that God often meets us in uncomfortable times and inconvenient moments. As fathers, I think we must being willing to go through some discomfort and maybe even pain to be the father that God calls us to be. That means asking ourselves some very tough questions. We can’t cast a vision for something we are not willing to model. Are you willing to ask yourself the tough questions so that you can grow to be the man calls you to be for your wife and children? Take this self-test with me today and ask God to put on your heart areas that you need to work on so that you can be the strategic and intentional father your son needs.

10 Questions That Every Father Must Ask Himself

  • Where in your life could your son see evidence of self-glory?
  • Where in your parenting are you more dominant than you should be?
  • In what situations do you fail to listen to your child when you should?
  • What things do you attempt to control with your son that you do not need to control?
  • What specific situations with your son are you tempted to speak more than you should?
  • In what areas do you fail to recognize and encourage the gifts of your son?
  • In what areas of manhood are you unwilling to examine your weaknesses and admit your failures?
  • Does your son see you thinking of yourself as more important than you actually are?
  • By watching your life, does your son see that you care too much about people’s respect, opinion, and appreciation?
  • Does your son see you relying more on your own strength and wisdom or the grace and wisdom of God?

 

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.

A Father’s Responsibility

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Fathers are called to show their sons what it means to be responsible. Responsibility shows that your son is growing up, maturing, and can handle bigger things. Doing dishes, mowing the yard, watching and playing with younger siblings and other acts of service are things that can yield more than allowance. We must teach our boys to take initiative to do those kinds of things without being asked. We must train them with the future in mind.

One critical element of growing into manhood and being responsible involves how to be an integral part of the family. I think many dads fall short in this because we either assume that our boys know what that means or we spend our time teaching other things. If we want our boys to lead their future family well, there are certain things that they must know as a son, which will help guide them when it is time for them to raise a family. I thought I would share just a few in today’s post.

*Teach your son not to measure their love of you by the material things you give or don’t give them. The last thing we need is another generation of young men who feel entitled, spoiled, and place too much emphasis on possessions.

*Teach your son that your love for him does not depend on his performance. The most stressful conversations for boys are often in the car after a game or in carpool after a difficult test.

*Teach your son that he is wired for connection and intimacy. We live in the most connected time in all of history, yet our families have never been more disconnected. Teach your son that family time is valuable and is a priority.

It’s easy for us to get caught up in the fast paced life and forget that we are seeking to raise up a generation of godly men who can lead their family well. If we do not take time to talk about family and model what that really looks like, I am fearful that we will continue to push our families farther and farther apart. Take time this week and make sure that your sons begin to understand what it means to be a godly man and how they are to lead their future family.

 

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!

 

Application Not Just Information

One of the key messages that I try to convey to dads is the idea of parenting with the end in mind. We must have a strategic plan for what we want our sons to know and be when they leave us for that next season of life at eighteen. We must think and parent with college in mind. The best thing you can do as a father is take a day and walk around a college campus. This will give you a great perspective on what’s ahead for your son.

Thinking about college reminds me of a great story I heard from a parent about their son’s first few weeks at school. This particular young man was ready to go. He registered for classes and moved into his new home in the dorm. This young man was working his way through college and was on a strict budget. All he could afford for his meals were cheese and crackers. Day after day he would scrape by eating whatever he could afford. After two weeks of this misery, he decided to splurge for a meal at the cafeteria on campus. As expected, he loaded his plate as high and far as the tray would hold. When he finally made it to the cashier, he was nervous that it would be a huge blow to his limited budget. He asked the cashier what the total would be and the cashier asked for his student ID. The cashier politely told him that the cost of the meal was included in his tuition when he registered for classes.

From the first day of class, this young man had access to all the food he could eat yet he failed to understand how the meal program was applicable to him.This is parenting in a nutshell. Our job as fathers is to be the spiritual leader of our household yet we forget to think in terms of why we teach it. Our boys need to understand how the truth we are teaching applies to their life now and in the future. We are preparing them for life on their own. They must know God’s truth, why they believe it, and how that applies to their everyday life. Proactive dads  seek to be a representation of God’s truth and pass it on to their boys.

My prayer is that we take every opportunity we have to impart truth into the lives of our boys. We have a limited time with our boys. Don’t waste an opportunity to prepare them for life on their own. They need us to cast vision for what it means to be a godly man and how that applies to their life on a daily basis. Don’t let them feed on cheese and crackers when you can give them a whole meal. Take advantage of the time you have. It will be over before you know it.

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.

Can you and will you answer these questions?

I asked this question to seven boys this morning: If you could have one question answered about the journey ahead, what would it be?

Here are their questions:

1) How is life different as a man?

2) What does it mean to be a godly man? What does that look like? (two questions I know; he is an overachiever)

3) How will puberty affect me?

4) How do your emotions change as you get older?

5) How much more stressful is a job than school?

6) What will my future wife think about me?

7) How do I handle adversity?

I thought these were great questions and give us great insight into what boys are thinking when it comes to the journey ahead. I also think it is a challenge to fathers to make sure they can answer these questions in the context of what it means to be a godly man. This means that we have to be proactive in our parenting.

We cannot just sit back as fathers and answer questions as they ask us. While those will inevitably occur, we must make sure that we stay ahead of the game. If we can cast vision for the journey ahead before certain situations actually occur, our boys will be better equipped to navigate it. If we are parenting future husbands and fathers, we must teach with that in mind. Trust me, you do not want your son to have his vision of manhood shaped by the culture. Don’t let the culture answer these questions for your son. He needs and wants to hear these answers from you.

Can you and will you answer these questions for your son? Take the initiative today for the benefit of your son.

 

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.”