Why Should We Be Kind?

We know we are supposed to be kind, right?

It seems like the good thing to do.  The nice thing to do.  Even the neighborly thing to do.  We should be kind.

But why?  Why should we strive to be kind?  Because someone has been kind to us? What if they are unkind?  Does that mean we are released from the responsibility of being kind?

As my wife and I are raising our now three-year old, it’s something we have had to think through again.  As good parents, we want him to be kind.  But if you have ever had the experience of convincing a toddler that he or she should be kind (or share or say “thank you” or “I’m sorry”), you know that it can be somewhat challenging.

I was reminded of an important truth we all need to hold to as I had a conversation with him one evening.  I asked him, “Why should you be kind to other people?”  His answer fell into the space of “because mommy and daddy said so.”

That’s not a bad answer, but then I remembered that there is a deeper reason for him, or any of us, to be kind.

So I told him, “We should be kind because God has been kind to us.”

Because God is love, we should love others.

Because God is truth, we should speak truthfully.

Because God forgives us, we should forgive others.

Because God is compassionate, we should show compassion.

That conversation is one I know we will have many times with our son, but it’s also a great reminder to us, especially to those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus.

God has been kind to us through His Son Jesus and we should be grateful for His kindness.  Then, we should strive to be kind to others because of God’s kindness to us.

Paul says it this way in Ephesians 4 & 5:  “…be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”

So, as you go through your week, be kind.  Because God is kind and He has been kind to us.

Some Good (& Free!) Parent Resources

Lunch Box Note from Matthew Paul Turner's Instragram (https://instagram.com/p/6zkxRKB4WS/)

Lunch Box Note from Matthew Paul Turner’s Instagram (https://instagram.com/p/6zkxRKB4WS/)

About a week ago I received an email with some free resources for parents.  After looking through the resources, I thought they were definitely worth sharing.

These resources come from a ministry called Parent Ministry.net.  They desire to help churches build an excellent parent ministry.

Around the same time I received the email, I remember seeing a lunch box note post on Matthew Paul Turner’s Instagram account. He shared a lunch box note he left for his son.  It underscored the importance of the resources that Parent Ministry shared.

The first resource is called Lunch Box Notes. They provide ideas for parents to use to leave various notes of spiritual encouragement to their children.  They offered 50 ideas for parents of children and parents of teenagers. You can view, download or print these PDF resources at these links:

Lunch Box Notes for Parents of Children.

Lunch Box Notes for Parents of Teenagers.

The second resource Parent Ministry provided was short videos for parents.  The videos are geared for parents of toddlers to parents of teens.  They deal with a variety of subjects that may speak to the specific season of parenting you may find yourself in. If some of the videos don’t apply to you, my guess is you have a friend or family member who could benefit from hearing one or more of them.

Besides, who couldn’t use some free parenting tips?!?

You can check out each of the videos below.  It is set up as a playlist and there are 8 different videos.  You can watch all 8 or just select the ones that interest you.

Fatherless to Fatherfull

Last night my wife saw this video in a post on Facebook.  Since we have become involved with adoption, we feel like we are a part of a growing adoption community.  This video is such a great description of what adoption is.  The kids couldn’t be any cuter and their delivery is certainly on point.

As Father’s Day approaches, it is a great reminder of how God wants to be our “really” Dad.  Enjoy and share!

“affluenza”

affluenzaI’ve posted in the past about information shared through Tim Elmore’s Growing Leaders blog. Today, I learned a new word – affluenza.

I guess it has been around for a while (since the 1990’s) and refers to a condition in which children — generally from rich families — have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol. Elmore references a court case where affluenza was used as a defense by a man who hit and killed four people with his truck.

I have copied Elmore’s blog below regarding this “condition.” As I read his thoughts, it kind of hit me from two sides. First, as a parent, am I or have I been guilty of contributing to this “condition” in my own kids? Also, as one who works with students on a regular basis, where do I see this showing up? Interesting to think through.

You can read Elmore’s thought on his Growing Leaders blog and offer your comments as well.

Some journalists are using a term when speaking about parents and the problems they have raising their kids today. It’s called “affluenza.” At the court hearing for a tragic auto accident in Texas, where teenager Eric Couch hit and killed four people with his truck, the defense attorneys cited “affluenza” (when one is raised with wealth and never given limits) as the cause for his crime. He’s been sentenced to ten years of probation. The term “affluenza” was popularized in the late 1990s by Jessie O’Neill, in her book “The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence.” It has since been used to describe a condition in which children—generally from rich families— have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, make excuses for poor behavior, and sometimes dabble in drugs and alcohol.

Like a disease, affluence, or living as if you have it, can harm a child as they’re growing up. Today, moms are sending birthday invitations out, with a gift registry inside the card, letting guests know where and what gifts to buy their child. Many parents assume they are “poor parents” if they don’t provide their children everything they want.

Obviously, when the bar is set this high, a child’s sense of entitlement increases. They start believing they deserve all the latest gadgets, tablets, smart phones, name brand clothes, expensive tutors and coaches, and costly vacations that are always better than last year’s.

What we’re finding is—this “afflluenza” begins translating into the notion that students deserve good grades just because they showed up, especially if mom and dad paid for this expensive school. Some college students have even sued their alma mater for not guaranteeing a job when they graduated.

I do not claim to be a parenting expert. I develop students and student leaders. But allow me to comment and offer some common sense.

We live in a day of “encore problems.” We expose our kids to so much so early in their life that it becomes difficult to engage them as they move into adolescence. They have been on trips and vacations; they’ve attended amazing ballgames, and they own incredible technology by middle school. What more is there to experience when they grow up? The problem is, the “more” they want is probably unhealthy.

Parents and teachers must navigate this “affluenza.” We must figure out how to pace our students, exposing them to measured amounts of possessions, and appropriate experiences as they mature. Often, they get exposed to things today before they’re emotionally ready for them. Most elementary kids have watched a sex scene on TV, on a computer, or at the movies. Most have watched violent acts and murders, and seen people do illegal drugs. It’s tantalizing.

What To Do

In his latest book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell discusses how difficult it is to lead kids today, when there is too little or too much money. Obviously, a family living below the poverty line finds it difficult to raise kids well, because their focus is mere survival. They are living paycheck to paycheck. On the other hand, upper middle class and wealthy families find parenting hard because they cannot honestly say to their children who beg them for a new iPhone: “We can’t afford that.” That moment requires an emotional conversation, where the parent explains to the child why it’s helpful to learn to delay gratification.

Yeah. Good luck with that conversation.

The research tells us that an income of about $70,000 is the median income, to make parenting neither too hard because of poverty or too hard due to wealth. Outside of those lines, we will have to learn to pace our kids. This means our job may change:

Pace the sequence of possessions and experiences, allowing for a bigger and better one, as they mature. For instance, you might plan a trip across the state for them in elementary school, a trip across the U.S. when they’re in middle school, and a trip overseas when they’re in high school.

Don’t fall into the trap of comparisons. Other parents may win brownie points with their kids because they give them too much, too soon. Those kids are “wowed” in the moment, but are over-exposed and may have difficulty managing expectations as young adults. Do what’s right, not what’s popular.

Always have a reason for every “gift” (possession, experience, trip, etc.) that you give your child. Have a plan, to progress into bigger and better “gifts” in the future. I even explained my plan to my kids by the time they reached fifth grade. They realized there was a method to my madness and they “got it.”
Prepare to have meaningful conversations with your young people. Get ready for emotional exchanges as they learn to wait, to listen, to handle envy of their friends, and to save up their own money, perhaps, before getting what they want. This is what maturity is all about.

Just remember, leading students is a marathon not a sprint. In fact, it’s a pace, not a race. Pace yourself. Pace your kids.

Adopted For Life

Adopted_For_LifeSome good friends of ours who have adopted recommended this book, so my wife and I snagged the Nook book. It was well worth it. Adopted For Life was written to those who have adopted, to those who are considering adoption, to those who know someone who had adopted and even to those who aren’t thinking about adoption, but should be.

That last category – those who aren’t thinking about adoption, but should be – is one of the main points of the book. The author, Russell Moore, contends that adoption is a picture of what God does for us through Jesus. God takes people who are not part of His family, but brings them in as sons and daughters. Even though we don’t belong to Him because of our sin and rebellion, God gives us a new name as His children. Adoption in this life reflects what God has done for us.

The author and his wife have adopted two Russian boys into their family after a struggle with infertility. They have also welcomed two biological children into their home and he writes about that experience and the questions that they receive as a result of the unique make up of their family.

Moore covers a variety of issues that relate to adoption. He speaks to those who have struggled with infertility and to those who have biological children. He talks about the paperwork involved, offers advice on finding an adoption agency and speaks to the cost of adoption. He also provides insights to some of the unique struggles adoptive parents and adopted children face.

It is clear through this writing that Moore encourages to the church at large to be involved in adoption, whether through encouraging adoptive families, providing funds and challenging individuals to consider becoming adoptive parents. Adopted For Life is a good read and presents a compelling picture of it looks like to adopt.

Praying Circles Around Your Children

I’ve read several of Mark Batterson’s books including In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy DayWild Goose Chase and The Circle Maker.  Praying Circles Around Your Children is a shorter book based on the principles and scriptures found in The Circle Maker.  I read the entire book in two sittings, but it could easily be read through in 60 – 90 minutes.  Batterson does a good job of building on what he wrote about in The Circle Maker and made it applicable to parents.

He shares stories not only from his own experience of raising three children, but also from parents he has met through his various speaking engagements. He also receives emails from people who have read his book and take time to share their stories.

I was challenged by this book to be in regular prayer for my children.  Batterson emphasizes the importance of not giving up when it comes to praying for various things.  One quote from the books states it well:  “We need a paradigm shift.  We need to start praying ALAT prayers – as long as it takes.”  He shares stories from people who prayed on a regular basis – some for several years – for their children before answers came.

Many times when you read books like this and you have older children, you get the feeling it is too late.  Batterson addresses that as well.  He writes specifically to those who have teenage students.  “When they enter middle school or high school or college, we need to intercede for our children.  Pray that they will make the right friends and the right choices.  Pray that their conscience will keep them on the straight and narrow.  Pray that they won’t just survive; pray that they will thrive.”

Praying Circles Around Your Children not only encourages parents to pray, but offers practical ideas on how to do that.  If you are a parent, this book will be an encouragement to you.

What Everyone Needs

Over the weekend I was listening to a podcast from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. They recently hosted a guest speaker from Kenya and the podcast included both an interview with him along with his sermon from that Sunday.

In his message he shared three things that everyone needs.  One of the focuses he has in his church in Kenya is calling the men of his church and country to be better fathers.  Many of the problems they face are due to the lack of involvement of fathers in the lives of their children (sound familiar?).

The three things he focused on were these:

Acceptance – Affection – Affirmation

He made the point that each person needs to be accepted for who he/she is, each person needs affection expressed through words and actions that communicate love and each person needs affirmation through being celebrated.  God has placed that in each person’s heart.

What happens so many times is that people don’t have those needs met.  Either through absent parents or disconnected fathers, children don’t receive the acceptance, affection and affirmation they need.  There is a void in a person’s life when those things are given.  And those unmet needs can impact how a person looks at God.

The good news is that we have a heavenly Father who is able to meet those needs in our lives.  Whether he had awesome parents or absent parents, God wants to love us as a Father.

The speaker also shared these keen insights about our Father’s love.  When we look at our Father, we see that . . .

  • Love has feet – God pursues His children, He runs after us
  • Mercy has arms – Even though we sin, He still loves us
  • Grace has a face – We see the joy in our Father when we return to Him

His message was a great reminder that we all have the same basic needs. Whether from the United States, Kenya or anywhere else, God has wired us to need and search for those three things.  And all of those things can be found in Him – a Father who gives acceptance, affection and affirmation to His children.