For a couple of years now, I have posted on a few different sites for a few different people. It has kept my quite busy and often times overwhelmed. After talking with a few people, I have decided to move my content to one site. It will allow me to focus on better content and makes posting much easier for me. I hope that you will understand and continue to follow at the new strategic parenting blog site. If you are subscribed here for my blog posts, you will automatically be subscribed to the other site. If you do not want that to happen, please let me know and I can get you taken off that subscription list. I look forward to producing better content at a consistent pace since all of my blog writing will be directed towards one site. Thanks for traveling on this journey towards strategic parenting with me.
I love this picture of our family taken over Christmas break at the Miami Beach Bowl. As you look at the picture, I am sure that you notice something about my daughter in the picture. She was not concerned about looking at the camera. Instead, she was solely focused on the trophy. The more I look and laugh at that picture, the more I realize that this is the battle we face each day as parents.
Are our children looking more to the things of this world or more towards the things of God?
It is our job as parents to make sure our kids are focused more on God’s glory than their own. The world is constantly bombarding them with image after image suggesting that life is all about them. The vision of manhood and womanhood has been blurred. Truth has been redefined. Self sufficient, self-directed lives are promoted and the results are clear.
Focusing on the world’s trophies leads to pride. This fleshes out in having rude, impolite kids who show very little respect to others. It leads to a generation of children who choose the love of pleasure over the pleasure of God. We find a generation who question the truth of the gospel because they hate the practice of it. So who’s to blame?
As parents, we are called to be the primary teachers, counselors, and coaches in our children’s lives. Sadly, our fear of opinion often hinders us from fulfilling the role that God has called us to as parents. We become dead fish families that simply float along with the current of the culture. So how do we point our kids and families towards the one thing that truly matters? Here are five suggestions:
- Make it a daily priority to root our children in the existence and the glory of God.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to put a Godward focus on the mundane moments of life.
- Focus on heart issues rather than surface solutions.
- Don’t communicate to our children that they would somehow be better off if they more like us. Teach them to be more like Jesus.
- Don’t point our kids toward something we are not willing to follow ourselves.
I pray that our homes are a picture of redemptive community and that we can point our kids to God’s glory and not their own.
We are in the middle of football season and for many people Fantasy Football is an integral part of their sports life. Leagues are formed, drafts are held and trash talk resumed. Games are watched intently each and every week. Many people watch certain teams or games only to see if their players are going to score fantasy points so their teams can win.
Interestingly enough, I think we have transferred the motives of Fantasy Football to parenting. I think we have become a generation of fantasy parents. We see ourselves vested in our kids so much that when they do well we feel good. We compare our kids “points” to the kids in other families or on other teams. Our comparative theology pushes us to look at other families so we can compare what we are doing in our families.
We have created this “point” system that is based solely on what our kids do and not who they are. Academic, athletic, and musical accomplishments are counted each week and judged accordingly. We begin to parent in a way that is motivated by what we can get out of our child or how many “points” they can get us. The pressure put on our children begins to look like the pressure we feel when our fantasy team is down going into the last game of the night.
This might sound crazy but I think it is something we have to consider. Is our focus more about what our kids do or who they are? I pray that we don’t value performance over the status of their heart. We should want our children to become people who love Jesus. We want them to love Him so much that they surrender their lives to Him.
So how do we know if we are falling into that “fantasy parenting” trap? Here are some questions to ask:
- Are we more concerned with our kid’s performances than we are with how they treat others?
- Do you find yourself constantly looking at the accomplishments of other kids and pushing your kids because of it?
- Does your mood change based on the performance of your children?
- Is your family schedule so filled with performance-based activities that your intentional family time is affected?
- Are your family conversations focused mostly on performances or matters of the heart?
My prayer is that we can steer clear of this “fantasy parenting” trap and focus on teaching our kids what it means to follow Jesus and how to live as a godly man or woman.
There are several people in life that you don’t want to hear say “Oops!” Your barber, your mechanic, and your surgeon come to mind. Another is your parents. None of us want “Oops” to sum up the influence we’ve had on the lives of our children. But more often than not in our culture today, that is what I am hearing from parents both in and out of the church. It is crucial for us to become intentional about what we are giving the next generation in the short time they are in our care.
If you don’t know this, time sneaks up on you. At first it was sleepless nights and leaky diapers. Exhausting and disgusting, but a fair trade-off for getting close with such a little bundle of joy. Then they raise the bar with bumps and bruises, dinnertime spills, crayons on the walls, and the word “No” in response to, well, everything. Still cute, but the trade-off seems a little less fair. Before you know it, you pole vault over issues you never were part of the parenting package- that first cuss word, awkwardly trying to explain sex, or crying together after that first time they are picked on or excluded.
We get no practice round or dress rehearsal. With the birth of that first child the curtain raises and we are on stage immediately. There is no secret formula for becoming “super” parents- faster than a runny nose, more powerful than a temper tantrum, able to leap willful rebellion in a single bound. The only “S” on your chest should stand for Sinners raising Sinners and that equals conflict!
It is our job as parents and a church to give them a biblical framework for living- to equip them with a strong sense of identity that comes from knowing who made them, who they are, and how they fit into the larger drama of life. We must help them understand their story from the Author’s perspective, to enjoy the wonder that comes from knowing that with God everything is sacred and nothing is meaningless.
We must wage war in this battle for truth and teach the next generation about:
A personal, loving God who created them for relationship.
A sense of purpose and meaning that transcends the often confusing and painful experiences they will endure.
Timeless truth that frames the choices they will face and explains the seemingly hapless circumstances of life.
A profound hope only found in Jesus Christ that can overshadow the deepest despair.
Our clear purpose in parenting is to inspire and nurture the faith of the next generation as life’s greatest privilege and priority.
I pray that we are all up for the challenge!
What is the first thing you ask your son when you pick them up from school?
I often tell parents that question is a very good indicator as to what they value. It also leads your son to think that this is what you are focusing on with them. We make a huge mistake as parents when our first question is focused on performance. I think we often ask about grade and homework before we ask questions of the heart.
Performance based questions immediately put our boys on the defensive. Think about it from his perspective. He has been through a great, normal, or terrible day and the first thing he is asked about is the very thing he just spent an entire day focusing on. What are we saying to our boys if we are asking performance based questions. We are saying his performance is more important than his heart. We are parenting towards the wrong report card.
Fathers, we need to make sure we are parenting by the right report card. How would our parenting change if we graded our boys on the following standards?
- Are our boys growing in Christ and spiritual maturity?
- Are our boys discovering, developing, and using their gifts for the glory of God?
- Are our boys pursuing a God-centered vision of life?
- Are our boys engaging in worship, study, prayer, and ministry?
- Do our boys have a clear vision for godly manhood?
- Are our boys living courageously in a culture that pressures them to conform?
- Are our boys engaging the culture for the sake of the gospel?
These are the questions that we need to be asking ourselves and the questions that frame how we talk to them after school. I pray that these questions will motivate you to think about the strategic parenting plan you have for raising your boys. Our world needs a generation of fathers who are willing to parent their boys by God’s standards and not their own.
Are you asking the right questions? Are you focused on performance or matters of the heart? What does your son think is the most important thing to you? How we frame our questions speaks volumes about what we value.
The more I am around boys of all ages, the more I am convinced that there are two definitive seasons of parenting: the season of instilling values and the season of allowing your boys to try out their own values. I think that there are some key mistakes that we make in both stages.
Mistake #1: We do not have a strategic plan for instilling values and we are not intentional in teaching those to our boys. If we are not thinking with the end in mind, then we will fall into the cultural trap of reactive parenting only.
Mistake #2: We fail to model the values that we are trying to teach our boys. I always try and remind myself that I cannot cast vision for something I am not willing to model myself.
Mistake #3: Our primary goal continues to be control and safety when it should be moving towards maturity and independence. I understand that this walking a fine line but I think we must constantly parent towards preparation for the future seasons of life. We are raising future husbands and fathers.
What are your demonstrated priorities? What would your son see as your priorities?
These questions must be answered before we begin to talk about transitioning from instilling values to letting our children try out their own values.
Here are some helpful suggestions for this key transition. Think of them as boundaries for reasonable independence.
1) Control what you can really control.
2) Make sure there are no surprises in your rules and expectations.
3) Give them the “why” behind your expectations and your decisions.
4) Map out a plan of transition so they know very clearly when your expectations and their responsibility for decisions will occur.
5) Realize sometimes that you have to be the bad guy.
6) Take advantage of the time to teach through decisions while they are still under your roof.
How are you doing with transition? My prayer is that we will all embrace our God given opportunity to raise boys into godly men.
One of my favorite family traditions occurs a few days before school. Each year we sit down as a family and I give each of our kids a word that will be their focus. I think and pray about what word would best fit their personality, what area they might need to improve in, and what would present a challenge for them. I explain the reason why I chose the word and present them with a sign to put on the wall as a reminder. I have found this idea to be a great way for Carrie and I to be intentional with our kids throughout the year. It also helps facilitate great dinner conversations during the week. I would encourage you to find ways to be strategic and intentional with your family as the school year begins. The time goes by fast so make the most of it.
Here are the words for our three kids this year. I pray that they can be an encouragement to you on your quest to be a strategic parent.
Oldest Son (16)
Focus: a center of activity, attraction, or attention; a point of concentration
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Middle Son (11)
Adaptable: able to change or be changed in order to fit or work better in some situation or for some purpose
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Blessing: approval that allows or helps you to do something; help and approval from God; something that helps you or brings happiness
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord
Make no mistake about it, being a father is not an easy task. Not only can fatherhood be a difficult assignment, but it can be down right frustrating at times. Our kids know just how to push our buttons. Unfortunately, if they are anything like me, that skill will sharpen as he moves into their teen years! Their escapades have ranged from mistaking my “come here please” for “run from Daddy with all your might.”
Why doesn’t this child listen, I often ask myself. How many times have I said,
“Don ‘t do that son”, only to be met with a complete lack of obedience. Will this child ever listen? Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. My son is just like me. How many times has Father said, “Don’t do that son”, but I do it. “That’s not what you have been taught son”, but I continue to disobey .What kind of reaction does this disobedience garner? Does God lose His temper with me or raise His voice in exasperation? Thankfully, He does not. He showers me with an abundant grace. The minute I repent, it’s as if my wrong doing never happened . I am clean in the eyes of my Father.
Fathers, are we not called to show the same grace to our kids as our heavenly Father shows us? What if God quickly lost His temper every time we went astray or disobeyed? If you are like every other human on this planet, you might not ever get out of trouble. If we can only give our kids a glimpse of the unconditional love of God and the concept of true grace, they will be better equipped to accept it.
Now go and build that bond that is so special between a father and son. Love unconditionally and show grace and mercy in your discipline.
Are you casting and modeling a vision for what it means to be a godly man? Are you providing your sons with a scriptural framework to help guide him through the process? Let’s look at what God’s word has to say about what it means to be a godly man. Let this serve as your “code of conduct” for this year of teaching your son.
A scriptural code of conduct for teaching your boys what it means to be man:
1) He takes responsibility (Joshua 24: 15)
2) He takes initiative and is not passive (2 Corinthians 8:17)
3) He leads with courage and passion (Psalm 31:24)
4) He enacts justice on behalf of others (Micah 6:8)
5) He is uncompromising in integrity (Proverbs l 0:9)
6) He is intentional and not impulsive (Psalm 38:15)
7) He trusts God for future reward (Hebrews 11:26)
Joe Ehrmann in his book, Season of Life, makes a strong statement about problems with boys and men. Ehrmann says, “All these problems I’ve been trying to deal with, they’re not just problems, they ‘re symptoms. They ‘re symptoms of the single biggest failure of our society. We simply do not do a good enough job of teaching boys how to be men.”
“If we do not get some kind of clear and compelling definition of masculinity at home, then you’re pretty much left at the mercy of this society and the messages that are going to speak to masculinity and manhood ,” says Carter Crenshaw, pastor of West End Community Church. Are we learning what it means to become a man from the world or from a godly home? How are we doing at developing this code of conduct for our boys? I hope we understand that it is not about just getting our act together but about bringing our act before God and asking Him to work in our lives.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may we look to your Word for guidance into becoming a godly man. May we adhere to the code of conduct that you have established in Scripture. May we all seek to bring ourselves before you daily and ask for forgiveness for not serving you with our whole heart. Amen.
“Humility is the most difficult to fall virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.” -T.S. Eliot
“The only hope of a decreasing self is an increasing Christ.” -F.B. Meyer
“Humility is the proper estimate of oneself.” -Charles Spurgeon
Teaching our boys to be humble is difficult in our society. Our society continually inflates the egos of athletes, actors and others. No wonder our culture has a hard time being humble. We live in the wealthiest country in the world and most often have everything we think we need. Although success in itself is not a bad thing, when we begin to think of ourselves better than we should it can become a downfall. If we want to teach and model humility to our boys, we must know what it means to be a Humble Hero and how to model that for them. A scriptural look at humility gives us good insight into the DNA of a Humble Hero.
A Humble Hero is teachable. Proverbs 9:8-9 says, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.” A Humble Hero is also God-reliant. We must put our complete trust in Christ and realize that our reliance upon Him will decrease our reliance upon ourselves. A Humble Hero also has a good reputation. Proverbs 29:23 says, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.”
Do your boys see you being a Humble Hero? Modeling it for them will first require you to take a thorough evaluation of your life. Are you more concerned about your popularity than your character? Do you think you know it all or are you teachable? Are you putting your trust in Christ or something that you can control?
Don’t cast a vision for something that you are not willing to model yourself.
Father God, may we all strive to be humble servants of you. May we glorify you daily by putting you first in our lives. Give us the wisdom to live a life of humility for you. Amen.