The first failure was how I noticed Hudson had to get my attention often when I was at home. I was at home, but not “at home” really. But this isn’t the example of God. We never have to grab God’s attention, convince him to look our way, or ask for his time. We always have it, and isn’t that a wonderful feeling? Knowing that when you turn to him he is already fully there invested and listening? What if we took that practice into our relationships? That’s one failure, and one example of a place where I think we can all grow and change our relationships.
The second was with ownership of reactions. Whenever my boys do something wrong and I get that feeling of anger, punishment, or judgement welling up within me. I know that I have work to do inwardly. My boys can’t make me yell, can’t make me mad, can’t make me act ungraciously or without gentleness. I need to own those initial gut reactions. Or put another way, anything that comes out of me, is because of me. That’s how Jesus puts it in Matthew 7 that trees bear fruit from what’s within. That means my boys, your boss, your spouse can’t make you act meanly. That’s our personal responsibility to own. So what I realized is that before I can ever help guide my boys in the right direction, I need to ask Jesus’ advice, focus on my own stuff, get it right and then help my boys. Jesus uses the example of getting rid of the plank in our eye before trying to get out anyone else’s speck. What he’s saying is own and deal with your stuff, your junk, your less-than-Jesus-like reactions, then deal with others. So I learned I need to start with me before I can be really in the right space to help my boys.
The last failure I’ve learned from is lacking affirmation in my boys. It’s not that I don’t affirm the great things in my boys, I do, but not enough. As I read the gospels and the New Testament, Paul, Jesus, and other writers are consistently and constantly affirming who we are in Christ. They say we’re new creations, holy, pure, loved, chosen, desired, adopted, and fully connected to Christ. They are constantly reminding us who we are. And I need to do that with my boys. I need to constantly be reminding them of who they are, so that they know how to live. I need to tell them that they are good, loved, smart, fun, and beautiful so that they will begin to believe it about themselves, and live up to it. In essence, I need to affirm in them who they already are, and who they are becoming.
We ended with simply recognizing how powerful, if we just learned from these three failures, how our lives could impact others. What if in our significant relationships we show deep attention? What if we always deal with our stuff before ever helping others with their stuff? What if people realized that we are always affirming who they are and who they are becoming? How might those actions change your marriage, your children, your family, friends, and neighbors? I think it would change them a lot. If when people looked at you they see someone who gives full attention, who gives deep affirmation, and always seeks to live more Jesus-like. I think living like that is worth striving for, and for me I’m going to. Not only for me, but also for my boys. They deserve a dad like that, so I’m going to do my best to live that out.
Big Idea: Show attention, affirmation, and ownership of reactions in relationships
- Failure #1: A Lack of Attention
- The Prodigal Son had the Father’s attention even when he wasn’t there
- We never need to grab God’s attention; we already have it.
- Failure #2: My Initial Gut Reaction
- Our reactions might be normal, but not Jesus-like.
- What comes out of us is because of us
- Failure # 3: Lack of Affirmation
- I affirm who he is becoming
- Have you been giving people your full attention?
- In trying we will be improving.
Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? What failures have you learned most from? What would you add to Andrew’s examples? Which of the failures do you think you struggle with most? Where is God calling you to grow? How can you show some signicant relationships your attention, affirmation, and personal ownership of your reactions?
Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk about your kids about today’s sermon. Be sure to start off by telling them the ways you know you have messed up and failed. Ask them for their forgiveness and how you will be trying to do better. Take a moment and model vulnerability, confession, and trust.
Challenge for this Week: Pay attention, Affirm, And Own your Reactions