Do You See the Good or the Lack?

12523184_10156725505805643_6099962064558674436_nThis week I started taking Asher to skating lessons. He did well…and by well I mean at one point he was flopping around on the ice like a fish out of water. But he did stand and skate on his own having a great time.

As I was waiting for him to come off, I heard a parent immediately share with their child how they can improve, what they need to do better, and how they can try harder. They were kind and quiet but still affirming all the work to be done.

Asher came off and immediately said – loudly and proudly – “Daddy I great at skating. I great skater”

Now objectively this is utterly false unless great skating means lying on the ice for 5 minutes. But I realized I had a chance to affirm the good in him or his lack. He was skating on his own which was new, learning to stand up from falling on his own, and he was trying hard (hence the tired lying on the ice). Was he gliding around the ice doing pirouettes…no of course not.

So the point though is this: so often we have chances and choices to affirm the good in people or their lack. We can affirm how they are growing, doing well, or where they are lacking. And I think we often choose to affirm the growth areas rather than the good already present. And I think that affirming the good in people is a little difference, that can make a huge difference.

And this is actually what God does so often as well.

He affirms the good in us rather than our lack: you are holy (Colossians 1:22), you have a new nature (Colossians 2:10), you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). And if God does that, I just think we should too. We should affirm the good we see in others. We should celebrate the imperfect steps people are taking towards good goals. We should be people who affirm the good rather than the lack.

So of course I said to Asher, “You did Great Asher – you’re a great skater”

Why We Need Words and Actions

11136617_10206457512023468_6356891879295745781_nSo as we were driving to church one day, just Hudson and me, I said to him. “Hudson, Daddy loves you”. And Hudson had this funny little response, “He said Daaadddy (in that long drawn out way) you always say that!” And I said, “I know that buddy, I just don’t ever want you to forget that or doubt that.”

And he said, “Don’t worry Daddy, I know you love me because you wrestle with me, read with me, play Lego with me, we sit together and watch TV, you ride my bike with me, and play with me. I know you love me because we do all that together all the time”.

And that just made my day.

But I wanted to share it for a specific reason, what Hudson’s response reminded me of.  And it’s this: Actions confirm words.

And here’s what that means for me. It is important to say I love you, but it is so much more important to say it and show it.

For Hudson, he doesn’t doubt that he is loved, because he hears it and sees it. The consistency of Krista and I saying it and trying to show it as best we can, gives him security and confidence that he is loved.

And this is my larger point in writing this today. Are there people that you need to show love to today? Are there actions that you need to take to confirm what’s in your heart?

Hudson’s response actually made me think about those closest to me. Would Krista be able to rhyme off a list like that right away? What about Asher, or my neighbors, or my mom or whomever?

My point is: are there people that we love, that we need to confirm it with our actions? Because love isn’t love unless it’s acting, moving, and being put into practice. So today put love into practice and confirm at least for someone, that they are loved.

“Hudson why are my arms so long?”

Today I want to talk a little bit about a picture my son Hudson drew. Because it’s really meaningful to me, but also revealing of something to me too. Here it is:

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He drew this during his quiet time, came and gave it to me, and said, “Daddy that’s a picture of you and me hugging.” Melt your heart type of stuff as a dad.

But it got me thinking – when did we stop doing this?

When did we grow out of doing this?

We so often take the closest relationships to us for granted, rather than cherishing them. That’s what Hudson was doing. He was trying to show me that our relationship matters to him. He was trying to show me that he loves me. He was trying to show me that he thinks about me and appreciates  me. When did we stop doing that for others?

So often our tendency is to neglect or take for granted those closest to us. We don’t send thank you notes to our spouses, but we do to our employees. We don’t send flowers to our parents, but we do to our friends or new potential clients. What I’m saying is that somewhere along the way we maybe have lost something that kids seem to intrinsically know. That relationships are to be appreciated. Appreciated through gifts, cards, thoughts, actions, flowers, and of course, drawings with long arms and hockey stick feet.

So my challenge for all of us is this: to learn from the kids around you and appreciate your closest relationships – and here is the key – make sure they know it. Do something special today for them and appreciate them.

Because sometimes a little thing, like a drawing during quiet time, can just make your day.

How a Community Can Launch its Kids

8402_10200932844870242_211848675_nOn Sunday I shared with you three things I think are key in raising and launching kids from our faith community.

The first key I shared was alignment. This is simply where our values line up with our actions. Kids pick out incongruity and hypocrisy like little magnets. We need to ensure that if we are going to have any influence that our values line up with our actions. So often we end up asking our youth and kids to value something we don’t practice. So to ensure this doesn’t happen I challenged everyone to ask this question often: are we living what we are asking? So are we living with grace? Are we living with integrity? If we want our kids to grow up serving, caring, reaching out, and changing lives – it needs to start in our lives.

The second key I gave was ownership. There is currently a move to deeper and deeper outsourcing. You can outsource your marital fights online now. The trouble is that as you outsource things you are giving responsibility to another party or group. And in the case of our youth, they matter too much to ever outsource their development to the school system, social workers, daycares, or even to our local youth pastors. These things are all good and valuable as supports and professionals; but supports and professionals are never a substitute for engaged parents and caring communities. So we need to own our personal responsibility in raising the kids entrusted to our care. Therefore, each Christian needs to ask “how can I contribute to launching our kids well?” What can you do to ensure the next generation thrives and succeeds? Can you be a mentor, can you give your time, your resources, your care and love? If we are to launch our kids well we need to own our responsibly in raising and launching.

And the last key to launching our kids well was that we need each other. The truth is that the world teaches our kids that living for money, self-satisfaction, or happiness is important and fulfilling. Unfortunately this isn’t the gospel. The gospel is that living for others, and living for something worth dying for is the reason to live. Stanley Hauerwas puts it this way: What we do when we educate kids to be happy and self-fulfilled is to absolutely ruin them. Parents should say to their kids “what you want out of life is not happiness but to be part of a worthy adventure, you want to have something worth dying for”.

And this is why we need each other. We need a faith community that practices and demonstrates what this type of life looks like. We need new role models, and heroes. We need everyday ordinary people who follow Jesus in the reality of their lives. We need each other. So I ended with encouraging each person to share their story of why they find following Jesus compelling, how they are doing it, and what they are learning. Because if we are ever going to be a counter-culture to the world of fame, wealth, and self-interest, we will need to share our stories.

So those were three keys: aligning our lives with Jesus, owning our responsibility, and working as a community. There are surely others, and things you might add. But I think it’s a pretty good start. But if you were to add anything what would it be? Because this is a conversation worth having…

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Launching the next generation requires: alignment, ownerships, and togetherness.

Take Aways…

  • We have all been influenced by parenting for good or bad
  • If you are a Christian you are a parent – modeling, and living an example for the kids around you
  • Christians, single and married, are parents. “Parent” names an office of the Christian community that everyone in the community is expected faithfully to fulfill. Stanley Hauerwas
  • Three Keys to Parenting: Alignment, Ownership, and Each Other
  • Alignment: Having our values line up with our actions
  • Are we living what we are asking?
  • Our youth need role models…they need you
  • Ownership: Taking responsibility rather than outsourcing
  • Our kids matter too much to give our responsibility to raise them away
  • Each Other: To create a community that makes faith real
  • What we do when we educate kids to be happy and self-fulfilled is to absolutely ruin them. Parents should say to their kids “what you want out of life is not happiness but to be part of a worthy adventure you want to have something worth dying for”. Stanley Hauerwas
  • Application:
    • Am I living what I’m asking?
    • How can I contribute?
    • Share your story

Adult / Group Discussion Questions What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? What was your life growing up with your parents? What about your parents “parenting style” would you like to use or leave behind? What other keys do you think there are to launching our next generation well? In what areas are you “living what your asking”? In what areas aren’t you? How can you contribute to raising and launching this generation well? Who can you share your story with?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and sit down with your kids and talk to them about today’s message. Share with them how you want to live with alignment and if they notice you saying things your not practicing to talk with you so that you can change. Talk to them about the models and examples of faith in the church, and why following Jesus matters for you. Lastly ask them how you can help them – how you can contribute to launching them well. Ask what they need and how you can help.

Challenge for this Week: Walk with alignment, choose to contribute, and share your story with someone.