“Because I said so!” Translated

Confused teenager with eyes wide open. Horizontal orientation background.

Learning to Speak Adult

As a child, I made a list of things I would not do when I became a parent. One of those despised things was using the dreaded phrase,  “Because I said so!”   But sure enough, it has slipped through my lips on more than one occasion.

Continue reading ““Because I said so!” Translated”

Three Strategies for Raising Kids with Character

As a father of four kids, I want to address a great need in our world — kids with character.

I want my children to achieve greatness with their life. Kim and I have pushed them to succeed academically. We have encouraged each of them to flourish in an art and a sport. Many parents want their students to flourish in these ways, however, if they lack character, their success in other areas will leave them deeply flawed. Our nation doesn’t need any more educated brats or athletic punks. Our culture creates a challenging environment that feeds the narcissistic lusts of human nature making it a challenge to raise kids with character.

There are, however, some strategies to help you guide them in their character development.

1. Model character in the context of relationship.

You cannot lead where you do not go. You must model character. The home is the first, and most important, learning environment. If you can’t control your temper, if you have a porn stash, if you cheat at business, don’t expect your children to do better. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And the words, “Do as I say, not as I do” ring hollow.

Let your kids see you praying. Let them see you wrestle with ethical dilemmas. Let them see you making positive moral choices. Then invite your children into your world at age appropriate times to watch you do the right thing. Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.

2. The number one enemy is the wrong crowd. Bad company corrupts good morals.  

 Buddy Scott has worked as a youth therapist for many years. He has specialized in young people struggling with major character issues – stealing, harming others, runaways, and rebels. In his book, “Relief for Hurting Parents,” he says the number one enemy for your child is the wrong crowd. I have interviewed many people for my writings. I have watched the choices and consequences of many lives in 24 years of ministry, and when I listen to the stories of people who end up at my office trying to get their life back together they all have this phrase in common, “I started hanging out with the wrong crowd.”

Proximity equals influence. Eugene Rivers, a Pentecostal minister in one of Boston’s toughest neighborhoods, moved into the city from the suburbs. Trying to learn the neighborhood, he sought out a local gang leader and drug dealer named Selvin Brown. He was a tough talking, sassy, inner city gun-slinger. Selvin showed the good pastor around the neighborhood and gave him a lesson as to why God was losing and gangs were winning the battle for souls of inner-city kids

In one sentence he explained it: “I’m here when Johnny goes out for a loaf of bread for Mamma, I’m there when Johnny goes to school and when he comes home from school. I’m there, you’re not, I win, you lose. It’s all about being there.” Make sure you are there for you kids. And make sure you know their associations. It’s okay for you to show up at their school and have lunch with your child and their friends. It’s okay for you to follow up on where they said they were going and who they are with. You are the parent. Protect them from poor influences.

3. Teach moral principles based on God’s nature

God has given us a moral law that – just like physical laws – govern our world. He has also given us a will in order that He can rule in love. These moral laws are not arbitrary. They are rooted in His nature and character. Therefore, when you train your children, help them see the bigger picture so that they understand that God gave us moral laws to help us live well in the world He created.

I recently watched a public figure answer a question regarding a certain behavior. She was challenged on it and replied, “Well, that’s how I was raised.” What she doesn’t understand is that the moral law is not dependent upon how we were raised. Right and wrong exist independently of how we were raised. Being raised by thieves doesn’t make stealing right.

Right and wrong are rooted in God’s character. Lying is wrong because God is truth. We have fair and unfair because God is just. Sexual immorality is wrong because God is loving, pure and faithful. These things are not wrong because the Bible says they are wrong. The Bible says they are wrong because the Bible reflects God’s character. Whatever does not correspond to God’s character is not true, moral, or right. Therefore, making poor choices will lead to a fractured relationship with God and others, violate our purpose and lead poor consequences.

When we model right decision-making, guard our children from poor influences, and give them the larger picture of right and wrong, they will have a greater opportunity to allow their talents to propel them to greatness without the hindrances of poor character.  Stay tuned for more on this as we honor the role of the father.

Fighting the “Man Creep”

ImageIn working to help marriages stay healthy and men to become better men, and also having 46 years experience actually being a man, I want to speak to a long-standing trend that must be addressed and fought – I call it “Man Creep.”

“Man Creep” is the phenomenon where men commonly pursue a girl passionately and lovingly, and then after marriage, they get romantically lazy and vision-less. They settle into a blob on the couch, become intimately familiar with the remote control, sports-pages, game-consoles, or worse, the bodies of exploited and pretending females that happen to be someone else’s daughters, mothers, and wives. We start well, but over time, we “creep” into lethargy. The passion and vision that attracted our wives to us has vanished like a sandcastle in the tide.

God programmed men to hunt. We love the thrill of the chase. But we also have a tendency – rooted in our selfish nature — to stop the hunt when we’ve bagged our quarry. This tendency must be fought within a marriage. Here are three practices that help fight “Man Creep.”

1. Cultivate your love of God and your vision for God. This must come first before all else. You must find yourself as a son toward your Heavenly Father before you find yourself as a husband, boyfriend, employee, or anything else. Your primary identity is that of God’s adopted child. (If you haven’t turned away from sin and placed your life in God’s hands, you will always be chasing this true identity with counterfeits.) When your love for God flourishes, you keep a clear vision of where you fit into His redemption plan. When you have a clear and compelling vision, the couch loses its appeal. And you want to take people along your journey to that heavenly city. When you lead your home in this way, things don’t get old.

2. See the complexities of the women in your life as a challenge, not a burden. When I talk to young men about the specter of spending the rest of your life with one woman they seem to think that will be boring. I gently lean close and tell them that the woman on your wedding day may be the same person ten years later, but I guarantee, she is not the same WOMAN. Her passions, turn-ons/offs, ideas, moods, wardrobe, pursuits, and many more things will change during her lifetime. If you spend your energy continually pursuing this moving target (then add to the mix winning your daughter’s heart), you will not have time, energy, or money to entertain the thought of another.

3. Own the responsibility to blossom your wife. When a woman trusts herself to you, she places herself in a vulnerable position. If you allow her to plant herself into the soil of your heart then you must accept the responsibility to help her become all that God made her to be.  If you lead her well, she will blossom into the most beautiful thing you could imagine. If you don’t, she may very well shrivel and die inside. Women have two questions continually rolling around in their head: 1) am I worthy to be loved? and 2) will I be ok? If, by your words and actions, you reassure her that she is lovely and she is safe, she will have the confidence to blossom under the sovereign care of God and the delegated authority of your leadership. If, however, you create uncertainty in her mind regarding her beauty and/or security through pornography, harshness, aloofness, indifference to her presence, financial carelessness, and a controlling/jealous attitude, she will shrivel and grow hardened or numb.  A good measure of a man’s leadership is the blossoming of his wife. You cannot control everything about her, but you can cultivate healthy soil for her heart to grow.

Keep in mind that females aren’t trophies to win and place on a shelf. When one places her trust in you as a daughter or a wife, you have not won them but have earned the opportunity of knowing them. If you fight the tendency toward “Man Creep”, your home will be filled with bright, glorious, and sweet-smelling treasures.

(By the way, there is such a thing as “female creep,” I’ll let my wife write about that.)

Givem’ Heaven!

Carey

Leader or Not…Here You Come!

Boys and wood

As a pastor for the last couple of decades, I have worked with hundreds of families. I have learned from great men and women who gave great examples of leadership in their homes. I have also had a front row seat to the pain and generational chaos resulting from poor leadership.

Few of us have had training in living as a godly leader. Let me share with you a few insights that I’ve learned along the way.

When I teach on family leadership, I explain a few foundational truths. First, I explain that leading a home is the second most difficult job in America (the first is being a girl in junior high). Second, I don’t tell men to be leaders. I explain they already are leaders. The question really is where and how are they leading?

Anyone who follows a leader knows that having confidence in that leader inspires us to follow better. If I could give you one primary reason why our marriage works it is this: my wife trusts me and I trust her. Trust is one of the primary assets in any relationship. So how do you cultivate confidence and trust in your leadership within the home?

1. Integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. One of the challenges of leading a home is that the people you lead live with you. They see your best and worst days. When I keep my commitments, especially in the small things, this inspires trust and confidence.  How we handle decisions relating to money often tells others the state of our integrity. If we drain family funds for our toys, if we rob God of His tithe, if we look to cheat on taxes or rationalize away decisions that shade the truth, we will still be the leader but people will not follow with confidence.

2. Connection with God through prayer and an understanding of the Word. I have been a part of trying to help families heal after someone in the family caught the leader doing something he shouldn’t. It is far better to have your wife catch you on your knees before God or pouring over the Scriptures. Your kids should see you praying, they should hear you sneak in on them at night and pray for them. Too many kids have memories of their parents fighting as they cower in their rooms. We need to imprint memories of parents praying together regularly and over large family decisions.
When a wife sees a man regularly open the Bible (not just in church), she grows confident in his leadership because he is demonstrating his willingness to follow his heavenly Father.  He may not get it right all the time. But God will protect that family because the leader has a heart that fears the Lord. Learn what God is saying to you through what He has said to those who have gone before you.

3. Live as the lead lover. God is unfolding a story of redemption. He has written you and your family into the script. His story is both a love story and a war story. In order for you and your family to take their full place in His story, we must direct our passions to the right loves and the right fight. Our calendar and our bank accounts leave a trail of our loves and battles. We fully realize our love when we express it through actions, words, and songs. You are the leader. Your family already knows your greatest loves. When the youth pastor asks, “What does your dad love the most?” Will they instinctively say, “God?” When they ask, “How do you know?” They should be able to point to your acts of devotion, music collection, tithing records and how you treat them when no one is looking.

4. Be the lead warrior. What battles have you chosen? Too many men conquer the counterfeit rather than rule in the real. We live out our battle dreams through video games and vicarious sporting events when the world is desperate for real heroes. Pick a fight! Adopt a cause as a family. One year I was looking for a fight. I had two teenage boys, and a forest full of trees on my land. I contacted the local senior center and asked them if they knew of a senior citizen that needed wood for the winter. They connected me with someone and together we cut, split, and stacked a pile of wood that heated a man’s house for the winter. Assess your strengths as a family, then deploy them to make a difference in God’s world. Show them what a real warrior looks like! Be the lead lover and lead warrior!