Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Raising Independent Kids

Here’s a question for parents: When your kids are no longer dependent on you, what will they be dependent on?

I've been thinking quite a bit about legacy, which I discussed in my post Legacy Starts Now.  My parenting conviction, as my kids inch closer to adulthood, is that I'm slowly but surely transitioning my kids from being dependent on me, to being dependent on God.  This transition is perhaps the most critical task I'll  endeavor in this life.

This is my most important undertaking.  This is my great adventure; my Everest.  This is an incredible privilege, to take what God has given me and turn it back toward Him.  This is my act of love for my children.  This my truest form of worship to God.

If we as parents, have successfully transitioned our kids from dependence on us to dependence on God, then we can leave this life behind when the time comes without fear for them.  When the time comes, hopefully a long time from now, they'll be able to let mom and dad go without fear of their own. 
Some transitions take longer than others and some take a lifetime; every child is different.  But no matter how old they are or how their transition to knowing Jesus intimately is going, a parent's mission is to fight for them.  I can assure you it won't be easy, but what could possibly be more important? 

God willing, they’ll fly the nest with the confidence of knowing that God’s goodness and love will be right there with them on the way out and no matter what happens in this life, when it’s over, they’ll live in His house forever.

Psalm 23:6  Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What Are We Doing?

“What are we doing?”  It’s a critical question that every leader and every organization needs to be able to answer.  Without a clear answer a leader isn’t leading and an organization or company is simply wandering aimlessly.  Without a defined target, you’re basically left hoping for a happy accident; not exactly a sure thing.

At Center Church we have a succinct answer: Helping People Know Jesus.  If anyone comes into contact with Center Church and wonders what we’re about, that’s it.

There’s also a succinct reason: Knowing Jesus is the gateway to every good thing that God wants to do in your life.  Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” (John 14:6)  If that’s a true statement, then there simply is no other way to enter God’s Plan-A for your life than through a relationship with Jesus. 

Our passion is to help as many people as possible enter into God’s Plan-A for their lives through a relationship with Jesus.  This is why things like, telling people what God has done in your life, inviting friends and family to church, living as godly example and walking with God daily matter; because if you’ve come into a relationship with Jesus, you have a God-given purpose to help people know Jesus too.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Leadership Lesson From Abraham

What principle could I, an average husband, dad and all-all-around normal guy, possibly apply from the life of Abraham; one of the most influential people in the history of humanity?  I mean truthfully, I’m just trying to love my wife and kids to the best of my ability and use my God-given gifts and abilities to good work with my life.  So how can I really be like Abraham?

I don’t consider myself an extraordinary human being, but I do consider myself a leader.  I lead in my family, I lead in my community, I lead in my church, etc…and so do you.  In very many ways, you probably have more leadership influence than you think you do, and Abraham teaches us something critical (many things really) about how to be an effective leader.

The Abrahamic Leadership Principle is simple (btw, I just made that name up but it sounds like a real thing, doesn’t it?): God has given you gifts and abilities to lead and influence other lives, but those gifts and abilities are meaningless unless you use them to benefit others.  

Being in a position of authority is empowering.  Everyone enjoys the opportunity to be one of the cool kids and have a voice and decision-making power, but there’s nothing more annoying than someone in authority who’s self-absorbed.  Case and point, just look to the national leaders of both major political parties in America right now.  All most of us want them to do is stop talking and start serving the actual needs of actual people.

If your authority position terminates on you and your benefit, you’ll be like the loud kid in high school who everyone thought was cool and now has no idea where he is and probably doesn’t care where he is.  By definition, leadership can only be “leadership” if it involves influencing others.  Abraham spent his life moving others toward God’s Plan-A for them. He could have spent it comfortably in the palace instead but if he had, we would never have heard his name and any opportunity his leadership to be significant would have been lost.

Abraham's choice to live and lead for the benefit of others instead live for his own comfort shows us the delineation between success and significance. He had success as a prince, living in the palace.  But he chose to live a life that actually mattered by prioritizing the blessing of those he led instead of using his position solely for himself.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Legacy Starts Now

I'm planning, hoping mostly, that at the end of my life I'll be able to leave a little bit of money and/or assets as a blessing to my kids.  I'm taking some steps now to ensure, God willing, that the end of my life is as little of a burden to them as possible.  (Kids, if you're reading this, I'm a vocational pastor so there won't be a trust fund; sorry.  I hope that doesn't come as a shock.)

As I get older and so do my kids, the question of legacy becomes more of a relevant issue.  I have no idea how my life will end, but one thing I know for sure is that my kids' biggest need isn't money. Right now they're not directly dependent on it at all; they have almost no need for their own financial resources. They just know that their parents will account for their needs.  When they have need of a material thing, they ask one of us.  Sometimes we say "no," but they have never been without a necessity.

Right now, I'm training them to slowly be less dependent on my wife and I.  I think that is a the fundamental role of a parent: raising our kids to be independent of us.  Someday in the not-so-distant future, they won't need me anymore and I'm good with that.

This process of raising our kids to leave home and be independent of us, begs a question for parents:  Other than money, what kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children?

I'm not anticipating my parents leaving me any money (though I'll take it if they do), but they have already cemented their legacy in my mind.  They taught me how to be faithful to God and ferociously devoted to my wife and kids.  They showed me how to turn the most awful situation (like, losing a child) into a redemptive part of their story.  What do you want your legacy to be?

Psalm 90:12 says, Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. NLT   Life is short.  Just ask anyone who's currently in their 70's or 80's and they'll confirm that truth.  What things will spring to life for future generations from the seed you're currently planting?  Perhaps your true greatness will only be seen when future generations sit in the shade of trees you planted knowing that you'd never personally enjoy the shade for yourself?  

Life is, in fact, short.  Don't wait until you can see the finish line to begin building your legacy as a firm foundation for future generations.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The 1st Day of School

Today was the 1st day of school in our house.  We have a 1st time high schooler, a middle schooler and an elementary student; just saying it is chaotic.  I took 2 hours out of my day doing drop-offs and pick-ups.  Not exactly something that a work-lover reflects on with satisfaction. 

At the end of the day, my high-schooler was a bit overwhelmed by the chaos of his first day in such a large school.  The middle child was elated beyond measure to be reunited with her friends and the youngest was exhausted because the day was “soooo long.”  All of those things; chaos, elation and exhaustion are magnified by the moment.  They’re a bigger deal than they should be, simply because it’s the 1st day.  All of them will be business as usual by next week.

In life, when we face a crisis, a disappointment, an opportunity, unfamiliar territory or some other significant moment, it’s important to recognize the context.  Sometimes, things seem overwhelming in the moment but if we give ourselves even a few hours of perspective, they return to their actual size.

Psalm 33:20 says We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  Perhaps we were designed to be less anxious and more faith-full.  God’s track record is good so let the moment breathe a little.  It’s okay to let Him handle it; it’s not irresponsibility or naivety, it’s faith and good judgement.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Year of Imperfection

Another year is about to begin and hope rises anew.  A new start is almost always a welcomed occasion for most of us.  Everyone’s chance to get it right; lose a few pounds, quit smoking, live by the budget, stop sounding like your mother…just to name a few.  All worthy goals and all achievable with the right set of circumstances, help and planning.

There’s one other thing you’ll need for a successful fresh-start: Grace.  Truth is, you actually need grace all the time, not just for a new year. 

Here’s my best prognostication for 2019:  You’ll have some wins and some loses, some success and some failure, some highs and some lows…me too.  I also predict that God will still be in control through all of them, His sovereignty will remain in tact, His mercy will still be yours for the receiving and He’ll graciously provide a way for you to get back on track when make a misstep.

This is life.  Imperfection is part of the gig.  We’re all flawed and hypocritical…isn’t is amazing that God loves us anyway?!  

  • My observation is: I don’t deserve God’s favor on the basis of my actions.

  • Reality is: I’m more loved than I ever thought possible; totally forgiven and blessed by God because of His amazing grace.

Our imperfections reveal God’s grace.  Our flaws demonstrate just how loving God is.  To think that He really knows you for who you truly are in the privacy of your own thoughts, and yet, He wants you anyway. 

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

If there's something better than being the object of God's grace, I can't imagine what that something would be.  It's going to be a good year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Anticipation

It’s 6:07am, Christmas morning.  Last night we went to Christmas Eve service at church, then over to the grandparent’s house for a family gathering.  In the next hour the kids will be awake, presents will be opened and the post-holiday aftermath will begin; we call it the “Christmas hangover.”

I’ve come to realize that the best part of Christmas as a cultural holiday is the anticipation.  I look forward to signing along with the band on Christmas Eve and taking a few days out of our routine to spend with my wife and kids, among other things.  It’s the anticipation of this time that makes it truly meaningful and exciting to me.

As I anticipate Christmas each year, the thought has occurred to me that God’s people were anticipating the first Christmas for a much, much longer period of time; and with tremendous consequences hanging in the balance.  And yet when it came, very few people celebrated it. 

Today, and everyday I have the opportunity to be filled with anticipation.  Psalm 23:6 says Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.  How incredible is the opportunity to live this day and everyday under the covering of God’s goodness and mercy?!  When I look back I can see the amazing adventures God’s goodness has taken me on, and the many ways He has cared for me over a lifetime.  I marvel when I think that when that baby boy was born one anonymous night in Bethlehem, He came into the world with all the vulnerability of an infant.  He took His first breath of open air as a baby, and His purpose in life was to die for me; to be my Savior. 

The incredible nature of the Christmas story; the wonder the shepherds must have experienced, the beauty of two new parents experiencing the birth of a child, the simultaneous simplicity and complexity… it all fills my soul with anticipation for the days to come.  Where will God’s goodness and mercy take us this year?  What incredible things will He do?!

One thing I do know, is that when it’s all over, I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.  What a day that will be!  Speaking of anticipation…that'll be one breathtaking morning.

Raising Independent Kids

Here’s a question for parents: When your kids are no longer dependent on you, what will they be dependent on? I've been thinking qui...