The Best 3 Things I Taught My Sons

I watched my oldest son make a life decision recently and it confirmed how proud I am of my two boys. He wrestled through it with wisdom and landed on, what I believe, was the best answer to his situation.

The title of this post may be misleading, because I don’t know if I taught wisdom to my boys or if they just saw me seek it and so it became a part of their life to pursue it, but either way, I’m glad they gained the practice.

Here are three things my boys have that I wouldn’t trade anything for:

The love of wisdom – My boys love to learn. They continue, into their 20’s, to seek wisdom from me and others.

The learning of wisdom – My boys not only listen to the wisdom of others, they seek it out from their own experience. They seem to realize that wisdom comes best through the experiences of life….good and bad…so they continue to learn from the decisions they make.

The living of wisdom – I have to be honest, my boys are two of the wisest young men I know. They truly take wisdom and apply it to their life, making wiser choices as they grow in wisdom.

I’m addicted to growing in wisdom. I’m so proud my boys seem to have inherited the practice.

Let’s talk wisdom.

Answer these questions:

Do you love, learn, and live wisdom as much as you can?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how wise are you these days? (Be honest with your assessment.)

Who is the wisest living person you know?

How to Discipline a Child

This is a picture friends sent me recently. This couple from our small group have no parents here, so we’ve adopted them and their son Luke. Luke is holding a copy of my devotional book. (You can actually see it HERE.)  It looks like Luke is in trouble to me. Poor Luke. That’ll teach ’em. Give him a copy of my book and seat him in the corner. He must have really been bad! Ha! (Or perhaps they were trying to put him to sleep…) Either way…what a cruel way to treat a child…Make him or her read devotionals written by me.

Just for fun…caption this photo for me…

Receiving Undeserved Love: Ecuador Day 3

If you’ve been following my blog this week, I’m in Ecuador with a group of pastors on behalf of Compassion International.

We were blown away today as we entered a village in the mountains of Ecuador. It took an hour to drive the curvy dirt road, our bus got stuck, and we walked a short distance to the village. Upon rounding a corner, we saw a crowd waiting for us. Hundreds of children from the village had formed a receiving line where they gave us a rose (Ecuador is famous for their roses) and a homemade card welcoming us to their village. It was slightly overwhelming.

Have you ever received an overwhelming undeserved show of affection?

I was reminded that I receive that kind of love everyday from God!

I can’t help but share this picture. This little boy warmed my heart (as did many others). I’m not sure he knew how cute he is!

Day 2 of Compassion Ecuador Trip

Day 2 of visiting Compassion Projects in Ecuador was my favorite so far, and it happened because of one little boy. He’s one of the boys in this picture. When I went to take his picture he asked if his “best friends” could be in the picture too. I loved that!

Anyway, this little boy was asked what he liked best about Compassion International sponsorship program and he said, “God blessed me with the opportunity to meet my sponsors.” Wow! That’s the part about Compassion I like the best! It’s an open book. Today I saw the records…I saw the documents…I saw the paperworks side…but more than that…I saw the kids who many people sponsor. If you sponsor a child with Compassion International, you can make a visit to that child…and they feel “blessed by God” when you do.

By the way, if you do sponsor a child, send them pictures and letters. I did learn that children absolutely love hearing from their sponsors. This boy, for example, knew that his sponsors had two daughters who got married this year. He knew their names. He was celebrating with them! The children who receive letters really do get to know and love their sponsors.

I’m not paid by Compassion or even asked to write this blog post, but let me be honest. If you want to impact children around the world, change lives and communities one child at a time, consider sponsoring a child today. You can do that HERE. It is estimated that every child sponsors has an impact on 30 other people in their family and community. Amazing return for your investment!

Have you sponsored a child through Compassion? Tell me about it.

8 Paradigm Shapers for Making Discipline Decisions as a Parent

I frequently have parents ask me what type of discipline they should use with their children. I’m glad parents are asking the question, but I seldom can give a standard answer for every situation. I prefer to use a paradigm through which parents can make their own decisions.

That’s the purpose of this post. Perhaps these steps will help you make wiser decisions regarding discipline. Here are 8 paradigm shapers for making discipline decisions as a parent:

Have a vision – If you don’t know where you want to take children you’ll be less likely to take them there. This should be decided before the need for discipline arises and it should ultimately help shape the discipline you use.

Have a purpose – The purpose of discipline should not be to cause harm, but to teach. Discipline is to help a child learn how to live. Keep this in mind as you discipline and it will help you make wiser choices. Ask yourself, “What can I do to best teach my child what he (or she) needs to learn from this experience?”

Step back and process – Immediately after an offense is not always the best time to administer punishment. It’s okay to let children wait for a response. Sometimes this is the best discipline for the child and it almost always makes your decision better. This step becomes more important as they get older and the discipline decisions become more difficult.

Never make a decision in anger – You don’t want emotions to make the decision. You want a well thought out response.

Consider the bigger picture – This is where having a plan/vision comes in handy. Considering where you want to take the child, how they are progressing in life, and the motivation of their heart, what punishment will most help accomplish your objectives for the child in this specific circumstance.

Make the punishment fit the offense – You shouldn’t have a standard punishment. Grounding for older children or time-out for younger children may work in some circumstances but not in others.

Make the punishment fit the child – All children are different, learn differently and require different methods to teach the principles you want to teach.

Reinforce love – Every discipline should be used as an opportunity to show children how much they are loved.

Let’s face it…parenting is hard work. I’m hesitant to say anyone is an “expert” in this subject. We all have room for improvement. I’m not assuming you will carry around this list in your pocket, whipping it out at the appropriate time of need, but I do believe having a framework of this sort in your schema will help you better address the issues of discipline you face as a parent. In the end, having this type of paradigm thought process, before the need for discipline arises, should help us be better parents.

Is this post helpful? What is the most difficult issue you deal with regarding discipline? What would you add to my list?

For more parenting tips, click HERE.

Connecting with our Community…Partnering with our Schools

I love the passion Grace Community Church has to impact our community. Our people serve their community throughout the year. The largest project, and the one that draws the most attention, is our annual Operation Serve held each fall where hundreds of volunteers serve in a one (sometimes two) day blitz of community needs. I’ve written about it several times before HERE. This past year over 1,300 people logged some 10,000 hours of service to our community meeting all kinds of practical needs.

Well, another project is stirring interest. Our community, like many others nationwide, have experienced struggles adequately funding school systems.  How can a church respond in times like these?

Introducing Operation Serve School Edition.

April 9th we hope to have hundreds of people volunteering in all 35 schools in our public school district. Operations Serve School Edition invites the community to participate with our church in landscaping, painting, cleaning, and completing other things the school needs done, but the budget simply can’t provide. The schools are compiling lists now and materials are being acquired.

To accomplish such a large task, we are also partnering with 5 Star Radio Group. They are providing publicity to recruit volunteers and providing tremendous moral support the day of the event with live remotes.

It’s catching on already. What we are finding is that whether a person attends church or not, they have an interest in educating children. Here are a few articles already talking about Operation Serve School Edition:

Besides the fact that we meet in a school…actually two schools…and doing a church our size and age would be very difficult without this partnership with our school system, it makes sense to invest in our schools this way because:

We love our schools. Our church and community are blessed with teachers, administrators and support staff who love the children and youth of our community. They are helping to build the future of our community. They need our support.

We love our community. Our church exists because the community exists. Everyone in our community may not all come to our church, but all our church lives among this community. We want to do anything we can do to support the community in which we live.

We love families. Families are a large part of who we are at Grace and the bulk of families in our community attend public schools.

We love God and others. We are called to be in the world, meeting real needs where we find them. That’s the example of Jesus.

Come join us in Operation Serve School Edition. If you live in the area, you can sign up HERE.

What are some creative ways you’re seeing churches connect with their community these days?

A Parent’s Greatest Prayer

I love the story of Manoah and his wife. They had been unable to give birth until one day an angel of God brings them news of a child to be born. As Manoah’s wife came to him with the good news, Manoah immediately did what happens to many men and wome when they discover they are about to be parents…he prayed!

In that moment, realizing they were about to be blessed with one of life’s greatest blessings, Manoah prayed the most important prayer a parent can pray:

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” (Judges 13:8)

Parenting is hard work. All of us have seasons we could use more prayer for our children.

What are the current prayers you have for your children?  What specifically do they need the most?

What are you presntly praying about for your parenting skills?  What specifically do you need the most?

I always tried to focus my greatest prayers on the character of my children.   What character issues are your children needing to mature in these days? Try asking God to help you know how to parent your children to develop in these areas.

(BTW, if you are interested or need this, I have written two previous posts about dealing with childlessness. You can read those posts HERE and HERE.)

One Place I Receive Motivation

I always joke that Cheryl keeps pictures on her desk so she can look at the ones she loves, but  I keep pictures on my desk so I don’t forget the people I love.  (Don’t email me…it’s a joke…kinda!) Seriously, men and women are wired differently. I’m convinced there’s never a moment Cheryl is not thinking about her family.  That’s why she’s so much better at remember special occasions and where we keep our favorite socks!

It’s not that I love Cheryl or the boys less than she loves us, but most men are more task-oriented than we are relationally oriented.  When I’m in a zone of work, I’m not usually thinking about anything else.  Sometimes though I like to stop, turn from my laptop, and receive motivation for why I do what I do. Apart from giving God glory with my life, my greatest motivation is to leave a strong legacy for my wife and two boys.

Today I was deep in thought, but I turned around and saw this picture and note.  It was the spark I need to keep pushing forward.

This is a picture of Nate when he was about three years old…and a favorite stance of his back then. The note is one he left on my desk after working with our church last Summer. The two taped together make for an amazing inspiration to me!

Where do you receive your motivation?

BTW, how are you doing with the legacy you are leaving?

Urban Meyer Values Time with Family

I saw this on my friend Pete Wilson‘s blog, but thought it was good enough to share multiple times.

Years ago I made a decision not to be a golfer. I loved the game, it was a great way to unwind for me, and I enjoyed the friendship with friends as we played. The only problem was that I couldn’t be a decent golfer and I’m not good with doing anything as a casual activity. If I’m doing it, I want to do it well. The problem with golf was the time that it took to play in order to not stink at the game.  My wife and boys weren’t interested in the game and I was more interested in them than I was at being a good golfer…so I gave up the sport. (I’m a long-distance runner, but I could do that before they were out of bed.)

I love the reasons Florida Football coach Urban Meyer gives for resigning. It may have taken too long to realize this and you can’t get back lost time, but sounds like he’s headed in the right direction. Watch it here:

What have you given up so you can be a great dad…mom…friend, etc? Brag on yourself for a sacrifice well made.

Growing Service in Your Kids at Christmas


Tim Elmore is an incredible leader. He has one of the best understandings of how to reach the next generation of anyone one I know.  I recently had dinner with Tim and can attest to this man’s incredible heart for people.  I’m blessed to have Tim share his thoughts with us here today as a guest post.

In our recent work with students, Growing Leaders has drawn some interesting conclusions. We have seen a shift take place among the young people in Generation Y. (The kids born in the 80s are different than the kids born since then.) The research is in a new book called: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.

One of the shifts we’ve uncovered is that kids have moved from “activists” (who want to change the world) to “slack-tivists.” They still want to change the world — but sort of. They often don’t really want to work hard or make sacrifices. They’d rather sign a petition on a website, get a wristband and then return to a video game or YouTube. They’re more self-absorbed than their earlier counterparts. So, how do we grow a heart for service in our kids today?

Try this.

In preparation for Christmas, prepare a list of Saturday chores to give to your kids. The list can include items that need to be done prior to the holidays — setting up decorations, cleaning rooms, preparing desserts, whatever. Obviously, include items that are age-appropriate.

Without telling them, hide an envelope with money in it, tickets to a ballgame or the movies, and put it where they’ll find it if they do their chores very thoroughly. For instance, if you ask them to clean the sofa, you may hide ten dollars under the cushions. They’ll see it only if they have worked hard and carefully. In other words, the reward comes when they have served well. Winners are the ones who work with excellence. Hopefully everyone will win.

Afterward, talk about how Jesus came at Christmas two thousand years ago. He said, “to serve, not to be served” (Matthew 20:28). Have a conversation about how Christmas really is about serving — God serving us and people serving each other.

“With good will serve each other, as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord…” (Ephesians 6:7-8)

Join us tomorrow at Greg Surratt’s blog as we discuss ways to develop perspective in your kids (and maybe yourself!) during the holidays.

Tim Elmore

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You can follow Tim Elmore’s personal blog at http://blog.growingleaders.com, and learn more about developing the next generation in his latest book: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.