Remember, there are many things in life that are far more important than the size of your investment portfolio or the size of your latest paycheck.
Too often in our capitalistic society, we place too much emphasis on financial achievement and too little on the importance of living a purpose driven life.
- Family… your spouse, your parents, and YOUR kids should come first. Just simply providing for them does not make your family your number one priority. There is far more you can do for them with quality and quantity time. Love is spelled…. TIME.
- Friends… the older some of us get, the less time we have for our friends. Some people get too busy climbing the success laddar and may not even make time for friends. Big mistake. So many things in our society are disposable, and sadly, friends too often fall into that category. Take time to invest in your friendships, both old and new. How hard is it to schedule a Starbucks coffee, pick up the phone, or write an e-mail?
- Your Health… stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor relationships with you and your family… all of these can adversely affect your health. Getting caught up in your career and working endless hours can also lead to neglect of one’s health. Workaholism can be deadly. The lack of discipline in making exercise, sleep, a good diet, and a healthy lifestyle can be dangerous if not deadly as well. You get one body, take care of it and treat it with the respect it deserves.
- Kids… investing in your kids is absolutely one of the best investments you can make. Understanding how to relate to, love, care for, and communicate with your kids is vital to becoming a more fulfilled and complete person. Our future is our children. What kind of legacy are you leaving behind? Relationships that are fully orbed or just a fat portfolio?
- Education… being a lifelong learner is a lifelong process. It’s not about being enrolled in the school or a fancy college or receiving a piece of paper. It is, however, about being someone who is hungry to learn, willing to change, and ready to embrace new ways of looking at life and the universe. As long as you have your mental capacities, you can keep learning and building on what you already know. Your mind is a terrible thing to waste.
- Having Fun… people get so caught up in society’s money game that wealth becomes an addiction, an obsession, and the purpose for their existence. How many wealthy people aren’t healthy people who spend far too much time and energy chasing promotions, money, and possessions. We can end up with lots of toys and turn out to be pretty unhappy people… big mistake.
- Solving Social Problems… how can you be a voice in society for those who do not have the ability to speak for themselves? Whether it’s poverty, divorce, suicide, teenage pregnancy, name your issue… you can have a voice and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Your community is full of opportunities for you to volunteer, donate time or money, and get involved.
- Your Neighbors… give the neighbors a chance. Don’t write them off because they aren’t the same age, race, or occupation as you. What’s the sense of neglecting neighbors, since they can be sources of friendship, if given a chance? Part of our connection to the greater society is defined by our neighborhoods, which are full of neighbors— who could be friends we haven’t met yet.
- Appreciating/Valuing what you have… right now make a list of 10 things that you really appreciate. What is on your list? Despite our overall affluence, we still lament material things we lack rather than appreciating and valuing the material and nonmaterial things we do have. Don’t forget relationships.
- Your Reputation… a good name is to be had above riches. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but only moments to lose it. We chase after many things in life, and we often de-value and under-invest in relationships which should have our focus and priority. How many men have thrown it all away in a quick but twisted attempt at some forbidden fruit?
Who are you?
What do you want?
Why are you here?
What isn’t working now?
What would you like to see start working?
Law or grace?
That is the question…
How do you deal with your children and those around you when you’re angry, frustrated, tired, and burned out?…
- YELL and raise your voice ?
- Play the martyr and do the silent treatment?
- Cuss and swear and scream?
- Dole out corporal punishment in the name of training ,control, and authority…
In other words, how to we use our authority?
When I talk about fathering, I think of how God the Father deals with me. And then I realize his kindness, patience, and love and see how short I fall as I deal with others…
God doesn’t always use a stick to beat us when we make mistakes… so why are we as fathers so quick to undress and apply the stick of punishment to those around us, especially our kids.
It’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to not like injustice, disobedience, immaturity, and some of the zany things kids do in their selfishness.
But what gives you and me the right when we are tired and frustrated to dole out law in the spirit of anger. Our Lord never modeled that type of authoritarianism. He did everything in love, including correction, chastisement, teaching, and encouragement.
You and I as men need to relearn authority. We need to not get caught up in the disciplinarian model and playing the heavy, which is so common in our society. We need to learn the authority of Jesus, based in love, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control.
We need to relearn the father heart of God, and how that applies to our leadership and authority over those for whom we have responsibility. We must be intentional and incremental in learning this model, as it will transform our parenting, and indeed, our lives.
So, the next time you’re faced with someone’s shortcomings, or your own, for that matter, what’s going to be different?
Will it be grace or law?
- Really listen. Listening creates clear communication by giving undivided attention and encouraging expression of feelings. Have real conversations, when you both listen and respond/react to each other.
- Encourage family activities. A sense of belonging is developed by doing things together, from social activities like driving to the store, going on an outing, or doing something fun together, to household chores or projects.
- Discipline constructively. It is important to give clear directions and to enforce limits on behavior. Use a positive approach: “Do____”, rather than “Don’t___”.
- Be consistent. Discuss and post house rules. If they change, announce the change. Better yet, have a family meeting to discuss the changes.
- Be clear. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t try to tell the other person what you think it is they want to hear. Stop being a pleaser… you will never please everyone, least of which yourself.
- Be reasonable and understanding. Be willing to hear your child’s point of view. Have logic and compassion. Use grace and truth. Speak the truth in love.
- Be flexible. Bargaining is an effective tool. Don’t major on the minors. Consider the individual.
- Be authoritative. Trust in your own common sense. If you are not sure about a decision, announce the need for some time to think about it. Then, do not hesitate or be indecisive; simply lead.
- Develop mutual respect. Model basic trust by being honest and sincere yourself. Insist that all family members treat each other with honor and respect. Be the first to apologize and repent when you err.
- Attend to your own needs. Maintain your individuality and cultivate your interests and talents. Treat yourself well, thus avoiding the martyr syndrome.
- Maintain a sense of humor. Finding humor in life is an important aspect of personal adjustment. Humor is a decision. It reflects a positive outlook that keeps issues in perspective, and separates what is really important from what is not.
Mastering the Art of Encouragement.
It’s amazing how everyone needs encouragement, but is so reluctant to give it.
It costs so little to give, but can yield such high dividends. We cannot afford to overlook this key life habit.
The investment of encouragement can truly build up ourselves, our kids, our spouses, and our communities.
Encouragement needs to be…
- Intentional. Offering encouragement takes extra effort and does not happen accidentally. We must be intentional if we are to be lifelong encouragers. This will mean having eyes to spot people doing things right…especially our children. To catch them doing something right and speak a the word of encouragement is a powerful tool.
- Empathetic. Be especially attentive to the needs of your kids. What would it feel like if you were a child in the midst of embarrassment, disappointment, or discouragement? Think about how you would feel. Were you that child? Did someone encourage you? If so, great! If not, how can you make a difference by being an encouragement to both your kids and those around you in your world?
- Specific. Don’t just say “good job”, but rather provide details and specifics; showing someone that you’re paying attention can be encouraging in and of itself. Offer suggestions and remember that constructive criticism, couched in a spirit of encouragement, can be inspiring as a complement.
- Sincere. The word “sincere” is from the Greek meaning “without filler”. Encouragement must not be unmerited praise or flattery. Do not exaggerate a person’s competence, achievements, or potential. Being believable, authentic, transparent, and genuine will help you build trust.
- Prompt. Respond with encouragement as soon as possible and preferably face-to-face. Making positive comments publicly compounds the positive affect of encouragement. Some people would rather see it in writing, so jot them a note or an e-mail… these can be public as well.
- Thorough. Following up by writing a detailed letter with encouraging content can really uplift your children. E-mail is suitable for doing this as well, as kids are often more tech savvy than we. Putting words into writing not only reinforces oral comments, but also provides a tangible document. Your kids can save and refer to it at a later date for needed encouragement.
- Creative. Use your imagination when giving feedback, encouragement, or support and recognition for your children’s achievements. Be intentionally out of the box as your imagination figures out new ways to give creative encouragement. Some people like verbal support, others prefer written, some people like small gifts,and for some just spending time with them is all the encouragement they require.
Encouragement is a powerful gift, which we need to receive and give on a daily basis. Let’s be more intentional in giving it to our kids, as it will help them with the tools they need to become better adjusted, more well rounded and high achieving adults. Be encouraged to be a life-long encourager!!
You may assume another family members know your needs, feelings, and opinions without you telling them.
But… relying on mind reading may result in…
- Loneliness….or hurt…
Here are some guidelines for expressing yourself clearly…
- Describe your feelings… share your feelings with” I” statements. They build trust and relationships and they give you ownership of what’s being said…” I feel-______”
Say what you mean in a simple, direct way. I’ve found that honesty is always the best policy. People seem to resonate with honesty and being straight up with them. Be specific, rather than general. Resist the temptation to be a pleaser, always trying to tell people what you think they want to hear. This is a big mistake.
Here’s some tips to use…
- Describe how other people’s behavior affects you without blaming. ” You” statements can stifle communication and create an accusatory atmosphere.
- Be aware of your nonverbal communication. Your body language gives you away every time. Be attentive to your face, tone of voice, and body language, because they communicate… far more than your words.
- Finding time. Perhaps the most important way to express yourself is to make time to communicate with your family. Making a conscience effort to carve out time to talk with each individual, and together as a family, is key to the relational health of your family. A family environment can provide a safe place for its members to share feelings, thoughts, ideas, theories, dreams, and hopes.
It is often family that is left out…during busy, hectic times, it’s especially important to plan a few minutes when everyone can be together, or when you can be alone with a family member without interruption. Be sure to save a difficult problem-solving conversation for times when you’re not totally tired or fatigued.
Many of us are verbal learners and need to process our issues and problems through talking. If you have kids or your spouse who is thusly wired, you would do well in heeding the advice above. People who learned this at a young age will be more likely to cope with stress as adults. Being able to discuss and vent angry feelings can keep those feelings from creating more severe problems such as alcohol or drug abuse, violence, mental illness, stress, depression, or other emotional problems.
Take the time and make the time to communicate today. This is an investment in your children that far outweighs money or possessions…
If not you, who?
If not now, when?