The Power of Parenting-give them a break from you

Janae and I have learned as the parents of 16 and 9 year old girls, and having been married for over 22 years a very important help in that relationship is for us to get away every once in a while without our kids.

As I write this we are on a little break. It’s a great opportunity for them to have fun without us and for us to focus solely on our relationship.

How is this powerful parenting?

1. It gives everyone a little breathing room?

Sometimes as a family we smother each other. If your honest there are times you just get on each others nerves. Being apart for a few days, brings balance and appreciation back into the relationship

2. It is a great example to your kids of how marriage should work.

Kids operate on a monkey see monkey do mindset, they follow us much more from what we do then what we say. One of the best ways I can teach them how to choose the right man as a husband is to show them how a wife should be treated.

3. A couple needs to be refreshed and refined in their parenting skills.

When we are away we always have great conversations about our kids. Next moves and issues they are dealing with as well as what we are. It’s refreshing to talk on an adult level with out your children interrupting. Or anything else for that matter.

4. Objectivity

When your in the moment it’s hard to be self aware. We need times we can pull back and see the forest without the close blinding branches of the trees. Gain some objectivity, see how things really are.

5. Healthy parents lead children to be healthy.

I heard Paul Scanlon teach one time the best gift I can give to others is a healthy me. It’s the same with parenting. Take time to refresh yourself and you will be a more effective, happy, encouraging and objective leader and parent.

I can hear someone say right now. I don’t have the money to get away. You don’t have to take a major vacation to achieve this, and you could also achieve it by staying and sending your kids to family for a few days. Bottom line it gives power to your parenting and it should be a priority.

You may ask, what if I’m a single parent? You especially need this time. Find away to spend some time by yourself and with some friends, absent your children.

Have fun!

Power in Parenting-seasons

Romans 8:28. All things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.

In life we go through seasons. Some hard, some easy. Some complicated, some simple. Some tumultuous, some peaceful.

It does no good to obsess over seasons. When we do we get stuck. Our growth is stunted. We may not always like the season we are in, but God takes all things and works them together for our good.

We need a big picture vision, not a small picture vision. Most people like apple pie or some kind of pie. If I were to offer you pie and you came to get it, and I gave you a bowl of flour, you would be frustrated, flour is in apple pie, but by itself it does not taste like apple pie. You will have flour moments but if you combine it with sugar, salt, crisco, and apples it’s all good.

Don’t obsess over seasons that are mere ingredients to the finish product. Wait and trust that all the ingredients put together will make a great finished product.

For example, the birth of your child is incredible, everyone is there, and so excited. Not long after you have to go home. The full responsibility is on you. The baby keeps you awake all night, you feel unqualified.

How about the wonderful times when your baby starts talking and walking, it’s so much fun, then all of a sudden they have a mind of their own and are almost impossible to keep up with, and you wish they would just be quiet.

I love that fun elementary age, they’re learning and think you know everything, then they become an adolescent, and they know everything and you know nothing.

As our kids grow, there are some great things that happen, some very painful things that happen. What we should never do is obsess over a season. Get hung up in a season that is so good we refuse to release and move on, or allow a bitter season to make us bitter, and everyone else moves on and we are stuck.

Remember ALL things work together for good! Live in the moment, and let your faith and trust in God help you realize, that at some point, your gonna have a fantastic tasting pie, and maybe a little ice cream.

The Power of Parenting-The fathering component

This is the second of three blogs on the “Power of Parenting.”  The previous blog was about the different approaches to parenting.  I think its fine that there are a lot of ways to parent, some good, some not so good, but I think if we are purposeful in what we do we will figure it out.  I highly recommend the best parenting manual I know about.  “The Bible.”  No greater insight on parenting or anything else in life for that matter.

In our society we are missing one of the strongest components of effective parenting.  Fathers.  Thank God that there are still a lot of great dads out there, but as a result of high levels of divorce, and pre-marital pregnancy, and just, purely irresponsible men we have an entire generation that is suffering the lack of true fathering in their life.  So This blog is not intended to be a big beat down on dads, but an encouragement on how to be an effective father to your children.

The fathering component:

Ephesians 6:3 (MSG)…Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.

Let me start by saying, for far too long in our society in many areas we have taken the easy way, or quick way out.  We have taken short cuts in our finances and careers, we have hurried through our relationships ending up with mere acquaintances and not deep strong friendships.  We have also taken the quick and easy way out in dealing with our children.  Dads we have the worst time with this.  Here is some advice from the Bible on how to parent effectively.  There are several things a father should do, and several he should not.  First, is to realize its not up to mom to do all the leading and connecting with the kids.  We have often deferred this to our wives.  I think its interesting, that in a lot of places in the bible it refers to the moms role in a kids life but here in this scripture Paul talks about what a good marriage looks like, what Great kids look like and then talks about great parenting and never mentions mom, just refers to Dad.  As if to imply to all the dads out there, to quit shoving the responsibility off on mom to be the all in all in this parenting dynamic.  He gave specific instructions to dads.  He said.  Don’t exasperate your kids, but take them by the hand and lead them.  Here is what that means.

Don’t Exasperate:  to make angry, worsen, infuriate, frustrate, wind up, drive mad.

As men we have the ability to stir up anger in our kids.  This is not to say be easy or passive.  It means don’t bring gas to the fire.  God made us to be answers to the questions our kids have.  He has given us the responsibility to lead them to the solutions to their problems.  We are not supposed to enflame the situation, rather to calm the situation and lead them to right decisions, and choices.  Yes this takes more time and effort, but the results are incredible.

How a dad should relate to their kids.

Be Powerful: Influential, strong, effective, persuasive, commanding, authoritative.

Be a man.  A person who cares, who carries himself as a person whose life counts.  Who lives with meaning, and purpose.  Not a push over or a bully.  Find that place of strength and gentleness.  Relate to them from there.

Be Personal: connected, not distant, not uninvolved.

This is where so many men miss it with their kids.  Even the dads who are in the home and a part of the lives of their children.  At times we as men just hold others at arms length.  Its very important your kids know you are right there with them.  You are not unapproachable, your are personal, and interested in their lives.  I know its funny on the sitcoms for the dad to be macho and uninterested in the wife and kids, and is merely tolerating them day after day.  In real life though, its not funny at all, and it clearly makes a negative mark on the children who lovingly long for the approval and attention of dad, but never seem to get it.

Be Present: Be in the moment:  Come on dads, don’t watch your kids grow up and then say, “what happened to the time?”  But you can remember every movie, or tv show or great sporting event that happened over that same period of time.  Your children are the greatest blessing and responsibility, make sure you stay in the moment and don’t miss it.  You can not get it back.  No matter how bad you want to, you can’t get it back.

Be Paternal: fatherly, caring, kind, affectionate, warm.  This is basically the spirit, or attitude of a father.  This is the way God relates to us.  Its ok men, to be affectionate and warm.  Its not weak to be kind.  It is not awkward to tell your kids you love them.  The lack of fatherly affection can truly confuse and hurt a child.  Sometimes its not WHAT you say.  Sometimes it is what you DON”T say.

Don’t worry about being perfect: be yourself, let your kids see who you are.  Be authentic with your kids.  You can be there hero and not be perfect.  Imperfect is real, and perfect is pretentious.  Your kids don’t need you going through life pretending.  They need you in the real world, dealing with real problems and coming up with real solutions.

Be Predictable: consistent, not all over the place, counted on.  The greatest thing you could do for your kids is to be consistent.  Let your kids know they can count on you.  Not up one day and down the next, but steady, strong, there.  This creates such stability in them.  It gives them a place they can always run to.

Be Presentable: Fit to appear in public, fit to be displayed.  Your kids want to be proud of you, give them reason to.  You don’t need to try to relate to your kids friends on their level, but simply relate to them.  Don’t purposefully embarrass your kids, it may seem funny at the time, but you lose such credibility in their eyes when you do that.  Remember what it was like to be a child or a teenager.

Be Proud: Not ungodly pride or arrogance, but proud to be dad.  You should be proud to be the parent of your children.  Even when they aren’t perfect you are still proud to be their parent.  Let them know you’re proud of them.  My dad would always tell me he was proud of me.  Even when there wasn’t much to be proud of.  That made me want to be better, and do better.

Be Prolific: fruitful, your life counts, means something, be good at something.  Let your kids take pleasure in what you do, or what you are capable of.

Men, lets be men again.  Lets get involved, stay connected, be to our children what God is to us.  DAD.  Romans 8:15, we have not been given the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry abba (Daddy) Father.

Make it count!

The Power of Parenting

toddler learning to walk

Image via Wikipedia

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, “so you will live well and have a long life.”.  Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.

There is such power in parenting.  I think it is lost on so many of us, how much real influence we have with our kids.  We really must stop believing the lie that says we are some kind of awkward interruption on our kids life.  Family is a God thing, and He has a specific way that it works best.  The following is my attempt to clarify what that means, and what a difference we can make in the world just by being a good parent.  Just remember, parenting has multi-generation implications, a meaningful future hinges on a powerful, and positive present.

There are different styles of parenting, which are you?

1. The power parent. (positional parenting). Dictator. “because I said so”

Power parents try to force the kids to follow by the concept, “I’m the parent, and your the child, so do what I say.”  While this is true, and sometimes appropriate, it is not the best way to parent, and its not the biblical way to parent as you will see.  Parenting is leadership, and you don’t want people to follow you just because your the boss, but because they care, and you have influence with them.   It should be the same for us and our children.  A great way to parent is to build an intrinsic motivation in your kids, “an internal want to,” by taking the extra time, to explain why you want them to do what you’ve asked them to do.  If they know the why, they will be motivated to obey.  Not because they will get in trouble if they don’t, but because its the right thing to do.

2. The permissive parent. (parenting by the buddy system). These parents won’t draw parameters cause their kids may not like them, “there going to do it any way, might as well keep them around me so they won’t get hurt.”  Reliving teenage years through your kids.  This is such a huge mistake.  Your kids don’t need you to be their buddy, they need you to be their parent.  Many parents think  if they take this approach their kids will talk to them, their relationship will be friendly, etc.  Truth told though, to your kids you come off immature and they need someone mature to help them with their problems, not someone who acts their age.  Be a parent, not a buddy.  You can be a parent now and a buddy later, or a buddy now, and nothing later.  That is the way it usually works. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying you can’t have a cordial relationship with your kids.  I’m saying, a parent can have a close relationship with their kids by being a parent.

3. The passive parent. (I really don’t care what they do, as long as they don’t get hurt, or hurt anyone else)  This attitude really hurts your kids.  While we think it is perfect for kids, because they can do whatever they want, it truly comes across to them, that you just don’t care.  In the mind of a child, if you don’t care enough to give them parameters they interpret that as you just don’t care about them.

4. The overprotective parent: helicopter, hover constantly, no risk. No hovering please.  We are creating a culture of young people who cant take a risk, cant face a challenge, have a zero for an adversity quotient.  Our kids need to take chances.  We are going to protect them right out of success and significance, because we are training them to be so afraid that they won’t step out and take a risk.

5. The pushy/perfectionist parent. (the use of pressure to push your child towards excellence). “leveraging the opinions of others, comparisons, etc..”if you were like so and so.”  We all want our kids to try hard, to excel at whatever they do.  However, we don’t want our kids to resent us because we manipulated or pressured them by using leverage.  I’ve seen guys push their kids in ball, because they didn’t achieve the goals they had for themselves as a kid.  To the point their kids quit and don’t ever want to play ball again, and have a broken relationship with their parent.  There is a way to lead your kids to excellence without using leverage, comparisons, stress, and manipulation.  Your kids are not going to be perfect, you will push them over the edge trying to make them that.

5. The purposed parent. (intentional parenting, learning, praying, using biblical principles. Like, 1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, 2. You reap what you sow, 3. Do what you need to do and then you can do what you want to do. Purposed parent understands the stewardship of parenting, and bases their parenting on influence. It takes the most work and involvement, has the best results.

What parent style are you?  What style were your parents?

Sadly, to many times in today’s culture we opt out for the least effort, or easiest route.  The intentional, purposeful route will take more time. It will take more effort, it will take more discipline on our part and more energy, and thought.  It is the only way to get the results you really want in your kids lives.

Be a purposeful parent, you will be a powerful component for the benefit of the upcoming generation.


How to Grow Your Church “Paul Style”

Temple of Zeus in Athens at Athens.

Image via Wikipedia

Acts 17:16

The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.  Last night I was having my study time, and came across this passage of scripture.  I read this whole chapter and realized that Paul was a real strategists.  He may not have proactively thought through his strategy, the Bible doesn’t tell us, it just records what he did.  If you look at what he did you will find an interesting strategy for church growth, church planting, and the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It started with him getting mad.

It says, the longer he waited the more angry he became.  He was passionate about the need for religious clarity.  He was angry that these people were serving mere idols when all they needed was to know Jesus, to be informed.  His anger moved him to action.  His action however was not some arbitrary attempt at spiritual exercise that made him feel good about himself but did very little good for the kingdom or the people who so desperately need the truth.  His action was purposed, clear, and effective.  If you are planting a church, leading a church, or trying to grow a church this is a great blog for you.

How to make the church stronger in faith and larger in number.

1.  Get mad (passionate) about the community you are in.

I don’t believe that God always sends people to a specific place, but to a specific purpose.  Sometimes He clearly does send people to a specific place.  Whether he mandates the place or not, one thing is certain.  If you will grow a church in your community, you must be passionate about that community.  Do you know your community?  What are its successes or failures?  What are its accomplishments or conflicts?  What are the needs and demographics.  Be passionate about it and get a revelation of the churches role in that community.  Don’t find yourself answering questions no one is asking.  Know the community and be a solution.

2.  Gather Like minded leaders around you and talk about your vision to bring change or help.

Partner with other church leaders in the community, and your own top level leaders to gather around the same cause.  Sharing the Gospel, helping the community, disseminating the truth.

3.  Emmerse yourself in your community daily.

Teach your team and you yourself get to know the people and heartbeat of your city.  This passage says that paul went out into the streets daily and got in discussions with people who happened along.  Meaning he was friendly, connected, helpful, straightforward.

4.  Build relationships with community leaders and people outside your church.

Through the discussions Paul was having he built relationships with people.  Some people didn’t want to have anything to do with him, but others were interested in what He had to say.  His relationships grew until they invited him into their circle.  Gain influence with others to the degree that they will listen to you.

5.  Research and study your community to the point you can speak intelligently about it and relate to them.

Paul talked to them using their thinking, their philosophers to relate to them and draw them around to his point.  Remember Paul was driven by a passion for their souls, not by a need to be right, or prove anything.

6.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Paul did not beat around the bush or try to hide the fact that He was Christian and that was his purpose.  When we are so mysterious about our  agenda and what we are trying to do, it comes across inauthentic and is very off putting.  We are in the community to help, to contribute, to love, but most importantly and primarily to share the Love and Grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Don’t sneak up on people, just be who you are.

So I can hear people now saying, what is so important about growing the church , we just need to share the love of Jesus and see what happens.  Well lest you think that paul was  not promoting growth, or being strategic about it, please hear this scripture.  Acts 16:4-5 (MSG) As they traveled from town to town, they presented the simple guidelines the Jerusalem apostles and leaders had come up with.  That turned out to be most helpful.  Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size.

God is all about growing the church spiritually and numerically and He is very strategic about it.