Father’s Day, Failures, and a New Future

321418_10152829471805643_695467691_nSunday is a special Sunday: it’s Father’s Day. I know this isn’t an easy day for everyone. If, like me, you’ve lost a father it can be tough. If you never really had a father, had a difficult father, or you desperately want to be a father but it hasn’t happened – I know all of these things can make Sunday difficult. Yet I also know for many of us Sunday can be a celebration. So recognizing all the complexity on Sunday I want to explore an odd topic: my failures.

On Sunday I want to be open and honest and share with you how I have failed as a father, and what that has taught me about God and relationships in general. I’ve only been a father for 3 short years, and 6 months with 2, but even in three years you can falter and fail even with the best intentions.

I know it’s an odd place to start with failures, but if you’re at all like me I learn so much more from my failures than sometimes my successes. And as I’ve faltered as a father my boys have been teaching me so much about God, myself, and all my relationships. So this is what I really want to take a look at on Sunday because failing doesn’t bother me. Not learning from my failures bothers me. I will make mistakes, and mess up – that’s life and parenting. But my hope is always to grow and change. So on Sunday we’ll open up some of my failures so that together we might all learn some important biblical principles around attention, affirmation, and owning our reactions.

Of course I’ll be sharing stories, of my boys painting the carpets and stories from Jesus. So I hope you can join us. But before we get there why not spend sometime and think through what failures have you really learned from? How have you changed? And most importantly, are there people you can share these lessons with so that we might all grow together?

Go to Timeout Daddy!

941103_10152862084975643_260761294_nWe have a three year old, which also means that we have a timeout spot. For us it’s the stairs. This has been helpful because pretty much every place we go has stairs.

Everybody’s different, but for us we use timeouts to help Hudson make right choices. Some people use timeout’s for punishment but we want it to be a corrective. So the general rule is he able to come off timeout whenever he is ready to say sorry, eat his supper, or do whatever it is he was supposed to in the first place. This is important to us because then Hudson still has some control, and if he makes the right choice right away he can get out of timeout quickly. There isn’t a set punishment time, instead he sits there as long as it takes to make the right choice. Because we want our kids to make the right choices. What is funny is that our kids also want us to make the right choices.

So the other day I’m in a bad mood. I’m grumpy. I’m complaining, and not being “happy”. So you know what Hudson does? He puts me in timeout.

He says, “Daddy no whining, you go to timeout. When you happy you come off and say sorry and we play. Okay!”

My little boy is no longer just learning the right choices, but expecting them from others. This is a really good thing, although I did have to spend sometime in timeout.

What I’m learning if I’m to be a good father is that it’s a lot about consistency. Consistently living what I’m asking. Consistently living up to my own expectations I set for my boys. In essence I need to model what I am trying to teach, and practice what I preach.

So maybe it’s a good moment today to simply take a second and ask yourself, “Do you need to go to timeout?” Is there something you expect of others that you aren’t doing? Are you making the right choices you ask other people to make?

Because trust me its so much better when we say we’re sorry, act the right way, and get back to playing…

My List of Failures…

I hate to fail. I hate the feeling, I hate when it happens. But even more than that, I hate when I don’t learn from my failures.

A mentor of mine taught me to keep a success list. This is where you write down significant accomplishments. Not big, but significant. This helps you when you hit a low week. Those weeks where you wonder what you’re doing in life, and if your life has had any meaning. You can look back over your list and realize that God is working through you. It’s almost a reminder of God’s activity in your life. And this is a good thing.

But I’ve started up something less positive – My list of Failures. This may seem odd, and perhaps it is. But I hate making mistakes and hate even more repeating them. So I write down key mistakes, and what I’ve learned from them so I never do it again. And yes I could title my list more positively like “My List of Learnings”. But for me I know I fail, and I will fail. The title may not be happy but it keeps me humble and healthy.

So want to know some things off my list? Here are a few mistakes I’ve learned from. Don’t email, when a phone call is better and more easily understood. Don’t think someone else will do it. Don’t be embarrassed to ask to pray for someone.

Want to know my newest one?

On Sunday I didn’t feel like I did a good job preaching. Inside I felt a bit off, unsure, and flustered. I let that affect me and my responses. I failed a bit there. So here’s my newest one: Don’t let your job or duties ever stop you from simply pausing, breathing, and praying for God to be present. That probably would have made the difference.

But I’m not going to let to make the same mistake twice.

But what about you. What will you not let happen twice?

What mistakes have you learned from?…

My Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned… Part 2

Here are the next three lessons I’ve learned this year.

Lesson #5: God’s Love is Unconditional

This is something I’ve known, but this year experinced in a deeper way than before. With a son, whom I love so deeply for no reason other than he’s worth loving, I’m starting to get a glimpse into what God feels for us. This in reality is really changing me this year.

Lesson #4: God sees Us as Holy

This has been an amazing learning, that once you come to know Christ God sees you as holy. You are not a sinner, but saint in God’s eyes. Go and check it out yourself. Read the Bible and discover that what defines us isn’t sin but Jesus Christ within us. So this year I’m focusing on reminding people who they are in Christ, not what they need to do. My theological hunch is that the more we focus on who we actually are, the easier it will be to actually live that out.

Lesson #3: Grace is Costly

Grace is freely given, but that grace costs. I’ve learned this year that grace is hard to give, it isn’t cheap. We love to give grace to people who deserve it, but God gives it to us, those of us who don’t deserve it. And we should do the same. To give grace to those who hurt us, who know better, who won’t accept any responsibility for their actions. We don’t do this because it’s easy, but because it’s godly. This doesn’t mean excusing the hurt that was caused, but recognizing the depth of the hurt and still choosing to show grace. This is the high road, and high roads are hard. But that’s also where you’ll find God and Jesus walking with you.

For me these were three amazing lessons to learn. The first two were great to learn, the last one no one wants to have to learn. But each made me a better person I believe.

What have you learned over the past year that’s made you a better person?

Would you share it with us?

Making a Top Ten List…

This upcoming Sunday is the first day of the new year. It’s a time to look forward to what’s coming and to reflect on what’s happened.

If we don’t reflect we run the risk of not realizing how we’ve grown, how we’ve changed, and how God’s spoken to us. There is an old spiritual technique called the Ignatian Examen. But in a simplified version you simply look back over a period of time and ask yourself these questions:

  • When did I feel closest to God? When did I feel farthest from him?
  • When did I feel full of generosity and grace? When didn’t I feel generous and gracious?
  • Where did I notice God in the past year? When did I fail to notice him?
I’d invite you to simply do that. Take some time and reflect on what God taught you this year. I’ve done that and have come up with a Top 10 list of lessons I’ve learned about God this year. And I’ll share them with you all next week.
But what about you? What has God taught you this year? What’s your top ten list?
I’ll share my list, but I’d love to hear a few of them off of your list!
Because maybe what God has taught you, you can teach me…