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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Virtue of Responsibility

Responsibility has actually been a pretty easy virtue for our family to work on.  There is so much to learn about and so many opportunities to teach and model when it comes to responsibility.  One tip I’ve learned as a parent is to not teach these virtues in a frustrated or angry situation. If your child is not being responsible by picking up their toys after you’ve asked repeatedly for them to do so, or your older child has not finished their homework and its 9:00pm on a Sunday night, as frustrated as you might be, it's not wise to use the virtue to verbally discipline.  In other words, it will be much more effective to use the virtues in a positive way after you have caught them being responsible.  Or, you may use it in a way that prepares them for a task you are getting ready to ask them to do.   We must be able to maintain a healthy relationship with our children, of all ages, in order for them to continue to respect and obey what we are trying to help them understand.

For example, “Kate, would you please show responsibility and pick up your toys since you’re through playing with them?”  If Kate chooses to not pick up her toys after I have asked her several times.  I don’t continue badgering her on responsibility.  I simply discipline her for not obeying, as well as keep her toys that she didn’t pick up for a period of time.  We need to separate the discipline from the virtue so that the virtue does not become the enemy (or the church, where the family is talking about it).  I hope that makes sense.  Nagging our children will only cause more friction in the relationship and could cause resentment aimed at her relationship with God.  

Also, we need to remember that responsibility is not just in the ordinary tasks or jobs we do like cleaning our rooms or doing our homework. It’s also in our attitudes, behaviors, and even in our spiritual walk.  For example; I am responsible for my attitude even when I don’t like something or someone, like my co-worker who just threw me under the bus.  When the car pulls out in front of me on the road, I am responsible to control my temper and the words that come out of my mouth.  I am also responsible for growing in my walk with the Lord and spending daily time in prayer or in the Word instead of spending an irresponsible amount of time on social media or watching TV.

Remember, when teaching these virtues, more is caught than taught!  According to Christian Smith, a Sociologist and professor at Notre Dame, "When it comes to our kid's faith, we get what we are!”  Let’s work hard at modeling responsibility and show our kids how to strive to be responsible as we learn to take on the character of Jesus.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Virtue of Hard Work


In Kid City this month our kids are learning about the Virtue of Hard Work, or more specifically, endurance. They will learn about four different bible stories that will relate to enduring even when things get tough.  Below is an excerpt from the curriculum we will be teaching from this month.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus never promised that life would be easy. In fact, He assured us of the exact opposite. But as Jesus lived without sin and defeated death through His resurrection, He proved that He could overcome the world! Now, our belief in His strength and power helps us stay strong even during the hard times.
Endurance is sticking with what you started even when it gets tough. It assumes that parts of life are going to be hard, yet in spite of that we can have hope and never give up. Through endurance we learn to trust God’s promises so we can experience the joy of completing what we began. We keep going because there will be a reward for having endurance. Often that endurance has the power to encourage others. When they see us stick with it even when we’re tired or make mistakes or when we feel alone or discouraged, they may come to realize they can have endurance during their tough times, too.

This month, we'll talk about how:
(1) Endurance is a response to God, knowing He has given us His Spirit to help us.
(2) Endurance is a response to the mission Jesus gave us as His followers.
(3) Endurance will show others how much we trust God through difficult times. 
(4) Showing endurance is part of the process of helping God restore the world.

How can we, the primary spiritual leaders, model and teach our kids about working hard and enduring even when things get tough? 

Look for the many opportunities that come up throughout your week.  Maybe one of your kids didn't get the role in the school play or the grade they wanted in math. Maybe they aren't getting to play the position they want to play on their sports team, or maybe they're just having a hard time cleaning their room or being nice to their friends!  All of that takes hard work and endurance.  These are all great opportunities we can use to teach!

As adults, we also have opportunities where we can model for kids how to handle situations that require hard work and endurance.  What was it for you this week?  Where did you have to put in the extra work?  Did you have a big project that you needed to finish? Did you find yourself putting the extra touch on something or going that extra mile, knowing that what you do at work honors God?  Was there something you wanted to quit, but instead you decided to stick with it and keep trying? Tell you kids about it!!

The monthly "family" memory verse is: “Let us not become tired of doing good. At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9, NIrV 

Even when things don’t go our way, if it’s something good, we can trust God that at the right time, we will see a reward for our hard work and endurance.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The 12 Virtues

As a part of the "4 Keys to Spiritual Parenting" we, as parents, are looking for daily opportunities to Learn, Model, and Train our children on the 12 Virtues.  This is a highly intentional process and, in most cases, could take many years to become a habit for us to really engage in this idea daily.  What I  thought would be helpful is to give us some practical ideas, as well as reminders, of how we might be able to Learn, Model, and Train these 12 Virtues in our homes more effectively.

According to N.T. Write, virtue is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices, requiring effort and concentration, to do something which is good and right, but which doesn’t come “naturally” and then on the one thousandth and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what’s required “automatically.” It might seem like it “just happens.” But virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices have become “second nature.”  Just like anything in life, virtue takes hard work. 

Below are the 12 Virtues and their definitions that we will be using for the next several months.  I will be sending a blog a week to give you time to look for the opportunities and execute the Modeling and/or Training.  I'd love your feedback on how you Learned, Modeled, or Trained your children in your home.

Defining the 12 Virtues

Accountability - Being disciplined to be responsible.

Communication - Listening and speaking with clarity and respect.

Faith - Trusting in what you can’t see because of what you can.

Forgiveness - Deciding that someone who has wronged you doesn’t have to pay.

Hard Work - Seeing what needs to be done and doing it.

Honesty - Choosing to be truthful in whatever you say and do.

Love - Choosing to give someone your time and friendship no matter what.

Patience - Waiting until later for what you want now.

Positive Attitude - Looking for the good in all situations.

Respect - Showing others that they are important by what you say and do.

Humility - Putting others firstly giving up what you think you deserve.

Wisdom - Learning what you should do and doing it

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pray for Your Spouse

Prayer is a powerful part of a Christian couple's growing marriage.  I have recently found a great resource for married couple's that will surely enhance your relationship!  Click on this download, Download .PDF (3.89mb) to begin 31 days of prayer for your spouse.  This should give you all 31 days in one document.  You can also go to the website and receive these prayers one day at a time, delivered straight to your mobile device.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thank God for Crisis?

In a recent lunch with a friend of mine, I asked him how he was doing at being the spiritual leader of his home. He said at times he did well, and then he'd just get lazy.  During our conversation I asked the question, "What gets you back on track when you feel like you're not doing so well?"  He gave me an answer that I have heard over and over again recently, and even experienced in my own life.  The answer? Crisis.  Why is it that we continue to live in this constant cycle of; crisis... healthy... crisis....healthy? Sometimes I thank God for crisis!  If it weren't for crisis, we may not ever get back to healthy.

I know we as parents want to be great spiritual leaders to our families, so it's not for a lack of desire. Honestly, I believe when we boil it down to the root of the problem, we find that it's really plain selfishness. Not intentional selfishness, just "getting caught up in our own stuff" selfishness.  Like my friend said at lunch, laziness.  So the question we need to ask ourselves is this, "What can we do to stay on track? How can we be effective spiritual leaders of our home without waiting for a crisis to occur in order to get back to healthy?  One way is through good 'ol fashioned relationships.  It's critical that we invite people in our lives to ask us the hard questions, often!  I call these people my "Spiritual Development Team."  These are men I have asked to be in my life and hold me accountable to the things I need to be disciplined to do.  These are men I can go to for advice and wise counsel when I'm faced with a tough decision.  These are men that I know will pray for me and be confidential. These are men I will see or speak to weekly.  These aren't perfect men, but they are followers like me, striving everyday to put on the character of Jesus. I encourage you today, moms and dads, to create your own "Spiritual Development Team." We need others, and they need us, as we do our best to win at home! Who will you invite to be on your team? What's keeping you from asking them? By what date will you ask them?

My 6 year old daughter's future "Spiritual Development Team!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Parents' Influence is Crucial!

In his new book, Families and Faith: How Religion is passed across generations, Sociologist Vern L. Bengston of the University of Southern California, shares of his 35-year study on families passing on their faith to the next generation. 

One of the four key findings, in case you didn't already know, is that parental influence is still the single greatest influence on their children's faith. Here is a recap of this research written by the Fuller Youth Institute:

There is a common belief in our culture that parents wield less and less influence over their kids these days, and that those kids are increasingly abandoning the beliefs and values of their families of origin. It is not true. It probably never has been. What is true, according to Bengtson’s study, is that young adults today are just as likely to share their parents’ faith as they were in 1970. This is true whether you’re looking at religious affiliation (What religion are you?), religious intensity (How religious are you?), religious participation (How often do you attend?), Biblical literalism (What’s your view of the Bible?), or civic religiosity (How important should religion be in public life?). Across all these markers, parental influence is just as high as it was a generation ago. 

In other words, parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith. (A quick aside: Grandparents, interestingly, are a close second. The study found that grandparents, especially grandfathers, who are highly religious were more likely to have grand kids who were also highly religious. It turns out that grandparents might be an underutilized asset in many churches and youth groups, not to mention families themselves.  

The bottom line: Parents matter. They matter a lot. 

Questions to Consider:

1. Take a look at the faith that you're passing on. What practices and/or beliefs do you hope your kids will inherit from you? 

2. How do your children see your faith naturally and consistently displayed in your own life? 

3. Where could you be more intentional about passing faith on?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Season

Several years ago, Oklahoma City experienced something that only comes around once in a decade or so it seems.  It was Christmas Eve morning, 2009 and our family was on our way to a party that we have been going to for 17 years.  I remember this particular year because there was a huge buzz going around that day about the snow storm that was apparently approaching the city.  

The church where I serve as a pastor was prepared to host its traditional Christmas Eve service that evening, so I would periodically sneak away to check the weather so we could determine if we needed to cancel the service.  I remember hearing all the gloom and doom reporters as they guessed just how much snow we were going to get that day.  It seemed to range from just a trace of snow to a couple of feet!  In reality it turned out to be just over 10” in the metro area.  It was the most snow recorded in a single day in Oklahoma City.  With winds blowing forcefully at 40-60 mph the storm quickly turned into blizzard conditions with very little visibility.  Snow drifts formed as high as 6ft in some places blanketing the hundreds of vehicles that were abandoned all over the streets and highways.  Interstates 35, 40 and 44 were desolate, all shut down, as well as the airport.

It was certainly a crazy few days as the entire city closed down.  People were stuck at home with seemingly nothing to do...except for spend time with their family.  Yes, that’s right, this “blessing in disguise” opened the door for memory making!  Sledding, movies, snowball fights, board games, video games, books, food, and lots of laughter.  I have never worn pajamas that long in my life! I didn’t know I had pajamas! That Christmas will always be remembered.  

Of course it took some time to stop feeling guilty that I wasn’t at work being “productive,” but as I settled in and focused on the gift that had been given to us, I truly discovered something that our culture seems to skip over all too easily. Unstructured time, no deadlines, no appointments, no phone calls, no homework, no sporting events, no hurrying.  For a few days we enjoyed each others company, we created space to love each other with our uninterrupted time, we slowed down long enough to listen to each other, and we reflected on the real meaning of the season, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This Christmas season, would you consider creating this kind of environment for your family?  Would you slow down long enough to listen and learn from your children?  Would you be patient and full of grace? Would you be intentional with your time and creatively teach your family about the real meaning of Christmas?  Would you consider looking for needs around you that your family could help meet?  Would you make this Christmas one for the record books?  One that will not soon be forgotten?

There’s such a sense of joy, anticipation, and mystery during this time of year. Embrace it!  Allow the “awe” of the season to capture your heart and fill you with the love of the new born King!

“God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising” (Eccles. 7:30 JB).