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


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

The Downward Spiral of a Man’s Heart

I’m sick of Satan’s dirty little tricks. Criticize me all you want for the legalistic sound of this post but I’m not taking a chance in this area of my life and I want to use this post to encourage men to do likewise.  If I’ve learned anything about being a man it’s that I am weak in this area. I’m tired of sitting with couples whose marriage is rocked because of an affair.  Lately this has included those in ministry and it’s impacting their ability to do Kingdom work.  If a man says he can handle this area of temptation without proper discipline in his life he’s most likely lying or impotent.

In nearly every situation I encounter (all but one or two that I can remember), the affair didn’t start in an instant; it started over a series of time and moments of indiscretion by the man (or woman).  I can’t intelligently speak to this issue from a woman’s perspective, but here is the progression of the sin of adultery in a man’s life:









Rarely does an affair start at the glance stage. It’s true a man may not go through each of the stages. Some skip the pornography stage, for example, although well over half the time this is the case. The key here is that it is a progression. It seems to me, therefore, that where we need to get a handle on the problem is early in the progression.   Satan is the master at entering adequate temptation into this progression.  He seems to know the right images and situations to tempt the man.

Every time I post about this issue females accuse me of being a pervert.  Just read some of the comments in THIS POST.  Guys, help me out here.  Be honest with who you are and the temptations you face on a daily basis.  You know you have a problem if not controlled.  Even the Old Testament character Job realized he needed some discipline in his life in this area.  (Job 31:1)  No temptation has seized you except what’s common to man. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Men (and women), we must get a handle on what we look at and what we do with our thought life.  I’m not saying every time a man has a lustful thought it is going to end up in an affair, but the progression is the scary part. Some of you reading this are already past the danger point in your progression.  My advice is to get help now. Your family, ministry and reputation are too important not to protect it.

For more on this thought process, read my post Addressing a Porn Generation and 7 Ways I Protect My Heart and Ministry from an Affair.

Now, for those brave enough, be honest with meDo you struggle in these areas?  What are you doing to protect yourself?

Don’t Be the Spoiler of Joy in Your Home

Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family. 1 Chronicles 16:43 NIV

What difference do you make in your home? David returned home to “bless his family”. Do you bless yours?

I am sure your family loves you. You are the mother, the father, the brother, or the sister. Of course, they love you, but are you lovable? Do they actually like you? Are you a positive influence on the health of your home? Do you add to its success, or take away from it?  If they had a choice would they hang out with you today?

Think about it for a moment. When you enter your home, what happens? Do people get excited? Are they glad you are there? Can they expect to see a smile, hear a kind word, or know they can approach you in peace? Are you a blessing to your home?

More important perhaps: Would the people in your home agree with your answers to the previous questions?

When my boys were little, sometimes I found myself as the spoiler of joy. I would come home, they would be excited about something in their life, and I would crush their spirit with my attitude.  Thankfully not many of those days (I think they would agree), but enough that I remember them.

There were days that my role was a disciplinarian…when I had to make hard decisions, but other times I was that person because I had a bad day at work or I was in a bad mood. There were many times, when I took the stress of life out on my family.  In those times, I had to remind myself that my home needed me just to be a dad who blesses them. As it turns out, the days with my boys at home were quickly gone. I am thankful for the times I chose to add joy to the home.

David went home to his family…and he blessed them! All of us play a role in creating the mood of our home.  We can choose to be a positive or a negative influencer of that atmosphere. All of us have bad days, but the way we respond to our family is most important.  Considering the current mood you are adding to your home, could that verse have been written about you?

Have you ever been the spoiler of joy in your home?

A Week Of Thanksgiving: The Top People on My List

I’ve been writing about people I’m thankful for this week, encouraging you to do the same. Obviously our greatest thanksgiving should be for our personal relationship with the Living God, but I’m thankful He allows us to have people in our life to love and help shape us. We’ve shared about people who have helped us professionally, been consistent friends, and helped us grow spiritually. You can still do that in the previous posts HERE, HERE AND HERE.

Today, I want to share the group most of us would put at the top of our thankful list….our immediate families. The people in my life I’m most thankful for are my wife and two boys. I’ve previously shared most of these points about them, but they are still true today.

• Models patience for me.
• Cheryl wants nothing in life but to see her family happy. That keeps me grounded in life.
• I want nothing more than to make see her happy, so she gives me a consistent goal in life.
• Cheryl makes me to be a kinder, gentler person.
• You can read a separate post I wrote about her HERE.

• Jeremy models forgiveness for me. He is the most forgiving person I know.
• He encourages me to slow down and enjoy the moments of life.
• Jeremy shapes an “it’s okay” attitude in my heart.
• Jeremy is a relationship builder and opens me up to deeper conversations.
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

Nate: (My 19 years old)
• Nate has always modeled reality for me. He sees things more in black and white.
• He holds me accountable. He can be my biggest critic, but he’s usually right!
• Nate stretches my innovation. He’s a creative thinker and always challenges status quo.
• He keeps me light-hearted. There is no one who makes me laugh more than Nate!
• You can read a separate post I wrote I about him HERE.

This year, as I prepare to have a daughter, I’m also extremely thankful for Jeremy’s fiancé Mary. Mary has been in our life for quite a few years now and we have always loved her as a daughter. We are happy our son was smart enough to make it official! Mary is so much like my wife Cheryl, so I know our family, and my son, is being blessed. She has beauty, grace, and compassion to offer everyone she meets. I wrote about her more HERE.

Who are you most thankful for this year? Describe your immediate family to me.

The Wheels On the Bus Go Round and Round

I saw this plaque in a store window in Michigan recently. I snapped a quick picture. I didn’t need the plaque, but I love the statement.

I dont’ know where the saying originated, but the most memorable time I heard it was when Jack Nicholson said it in the movie “Bucket List”. It’s a powerful and true statement about life.

It has a similar thought process to one of my favorite verses from Scripture. Ecclesiastes 11:3: “If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.

It reminds me that life happens. Seasons change. Troubles come and they go. You cannot navigate around them. The wheels on the bus go round and round. Sometimes fast. Sometimes slow. Occasionally over rough terrain. At times suffering from a flat tire or two…

I’m also reminded that during the toughest times of life, when we can’t seem to catch our breath and the wheels are turning so swiftly, that:

  • We learn more.
  • Our faith grows
  • Our witness potential expands
  • Our God can be glorified

How are your wheels turning today? Which season are you in right now?

Week of Thanksgiving: One Consistent Friend

Do you have a consistent friend…one who has stuck with you over the years…through good times and bad times of life?

Are you thankful for them?

This week I’m focussing some posts on sharing thoughts of Thanksgiving. You can read yesterday’s post HERE.

I’ll start the discussion by sharing one of mine.

Chuck was my radio partner for 17 years. I recently had to give up the show we did together due to my work schedule, but I know our friendship goes beyond a couple of microphones. I have always considered Chuck like a brother. I would trust him with my life. I remember the time he had some heart complications and was taken to the hospital. As I started to rush out the door to go see him, my wife reminded me that only immediate family was allowed in his room. Without thinking I said, “Well I’ll just tell them I’m his brother.” Cheryl told me they might suspect something. Chuck is black and I am white. If I needed something today I would simply have to call and Chuck would be there. I love that guy.

Now your turn.

Who is that one person, besides your immediate family, who has always been a consistent friend?

Friday Discussion: Do Opposites Attract?

This Friday discussion originates from a discussion we had in my community group meeting this week. Our topic was marriage and in almost every couple, the husband and wife were extremely different in how they approach situations. It wasn’t a strictly male/female discussion. The males and females were split on some of these issues. It was just that two people wired completely different had married one another. I do know from a counseling standpoint that these difference also cause conflict, but is it who we are attracted to…those that will naturally conflict with our personalities?

So today, share your opinion: Do opposites attract? Do they work to make the relationship stronger?

I’ve always heard that is true, although I don’t know if any research has been done to prove it or not. I see it a lot of it, but is it always true?

Are we attracted to people with different personalities from ours?  Do we want to marry someone who is going to naturally conflict with us?  I’m asking more than the male/female question…that one is natural.  I’m asking are you differently wired….one organized, the other not…one a planner, the other not…one high stressed, the other laid back…that kind of difference.  Perhaps one way to address this is to answer the question: Are you opposite from your spouse or loved one? What are things that drive you nuts about your partner, but may be the things that actually attracted you to him or her?

What do you think?

Share your thoughts with me and dialogue on this Friday discussion. I love reading your opinions.

Don’t Shy Away from the Word Balance

Over the years, I’ve heard differing opinions on the use of the word balance. I’ve learned there are many who actually hate the use of the word. For example, some say the life of a Christian is never balanced because God wants all of our lives. I couldn’t agree more. Others say it’s impossible to balance between work and home because one of them deserves our greatest energy (our home), and yet the two extremes will always compete for our best time and energy. I completely agree. In those contexts, I agree balance should not be our goal. We should prioritize our life around the extremes of life, ensuring that those things we value most receive our greatest attention.

Balance, however, doesn’t always mean things are equal. I prefer to use the term balance to describe how a person responds to the extremes of life. Balance to me means a person learns to stand up…keep their equilibrium, even when things in life are not equal…out of balance. When life is crazy, which it often is, the person of balance learns to juggle each area where over time none of them has to suffer. A balanced person prioritizes his or her life around what is most important, for me, that means first my relationship with God, then my family, then my work and my service to others, and then organizes life in a way where each area receives adequate attention for success.

I realize much of this discussion is semantics, but i believe it has importance in principle also. People who want to achieve success in all areas of their life must find ways to give adequate attention to each area, without neglecting those things/people of greatest importance in life. That requires balance. (The Proverbs 31 woman had balance.) I met with a new father recently and he’s having to learn how to balance marriage, parenting, and his work life, while attempting to be successful in each part of his life. He’s learning balance.

The leaders and people I respect most in life are those I see learning to balance success in all areas of their life…at home…at work…and in the world.

Don’t shy away from the word balance. Just learn to use it well. Gaining a sense of balance is a process that often takes years and even a few stumbling moments to accomplish, but it’s worth the challenge.

What does the term balance mean to you? In what area of your life are you most out of balance?

7 Emotions from the Male’s Side of Infertility

Cheryl and I have often said that one of the greatest trials we have walked through in ministry with people is the hidden pain of infertility. Every time we celebrate the birth of someone’s child we also know of a couple who can’t seem to get pregnant or have recently had a miscarriage. (I wrote about the pain of the childless in a previous post HERE.) Many reading this post will have walked through this pain personally.

One aspect which I may have overlooked is the man’s side of this issue. I knew men struggled with infertility also, but I am not sure I realized the extent of their pain. Recently I was talking to a man who shared his personal and hidden pain during he and his wife’s time of infertility. It opened my eyes to the man’s perspective.

When a couple is battling infertility here are 7 emotions the man often feels:

Helpless – “My wife and I are hurting and I don’t know what to do” is the emotion many men feel. Being wired to fix things, this problem, like many issues in life, isn’t often fixable and the man feels helpless.

Protective – The man, in an attempt to defend his wife may think, “I don’t want you to hurt anymore”, which might lead him to react in ways that make the wife feel he isn’t as interested in having children as she is interested.

Insecure – The man is probably asking, “Am I not enough?” This is a hard one for women to understand, but it’s even Biblical. Read 1 Samuel 1:8 for an example. Men naturally struggle with insecurity, but especially during this issue.

Empty – I knew the woman felt this emotion during infertility, but I am not sure I realized the man does as well. A man who wants to be a dad may feel like something is desperately missing in his life.

Scared – A lot of times the man is thinking “What if it’s my fault?” He may fear that something physically wrong with him is keeping his wife from experiencing the joy of motherhood.

Frustrated – Men don’t understand why this is happening to their marriage, so they may wrongly become frustrated with themselves, with God, and even with their wife.

Inferior – Men dealing with infertility often wonder why other men can get their wife pregnant, but not them. They may struggle with a sense of worth and doubt their abilities in other other parts of their life.

This post is not new information for those of you who have or are struggling with this issue, but, again, I never understood the weight of burden this was to a man’s life. I have always known from experience the pain in a woman’s heart who deals with infertility, and even the weight it places on a marriage relationship, but my friend helped me understand the specific side of this issue relative to men.

Keep in mind, most men are not as equipped to talk about their emotions as women may be. Some men don’t even know they have seven whole ranges of emotions (semi-joking here). Men, if this is your issue, don’t struggle alone. Be vulnerable with your wife and a few other men who can walk with you through this issue.

Men (and women), have you dealt with this issue? What have you learned that could help others?

Men, since this post addresses your emotions in this issue, please add your thoughts to help other men. Women, did you ever understand this issue from a man’s perspective?

7 Phrases We Should Never Use to Start a Sentence

In years of doing ministry, through personal experience, and by living life with others, I’ve learned a few things not to say. I’ve seen well-meaning people make proclamations they can’t keep.  What I’ve come to realize is that life has a way of throwing us surprises, so we should be proactive in guarding our heart and life.

With that in mind, I would be careful starting a sentence with the following phrases:

I’m not worried about my marriage because…

I’m not tempted to…

My spouse would never cheat because…

This can’t fail because…

I could never lose my job because…

My kids will never…

You wouldn’t understand because…

Have you been snagged by one of these statements?  Which one do you need to guard against the most?