Archive for the ‘Spiritual Development’ Category

A Letter to My Daughters

February 8, 2011

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E… and J…

Hopefully, what I’m about to share with you isn’t the first time you recall hearing these things.  And, I know it’s a little weird to see them in the middle of a blog post (you know your weird dad :)).  But, maybe there’s just one dad out there who needs to see a dad express some of these things as  a reminder to share them with his daughter.  Thanks for humoring me, again.

You both know that I thank God daily for giving us (your mom and I) such beautiful girls.  And, you are not simply beautiful externally (which you are) but more importantly, you are becoming more and more beautiful internally.  You’re love for the Lord is becoming more and more evident by the way you serve and love others.  I see a Spirit in you that is helping shape and mold you into the woman God is designing.  It’s what your mother and I have prayed since before you were born, and continue to pray for you each day.

One day there will be a boy, er, young man who sweeps you off your feet.  We’ve watched Father of the Bride so many times that you can almost imagine how I’ll react.  I just pray you don’t have to bail me out of jail for opening bags of hot dog buns in the grocery store.  And, I won’t suggest the Steak Pit for your wedding reception.  Until that day comes, I know that God is continuing to refine you in preparation of that day.  And, He’s refining that young man as well.  I pray that you will let me, as your dad, help you and advise you as you enter into relationships over the coming years.  Not because I don’t think you can make wise choices but because you know that I love you and want the best for you.  And, when it comes to “love”, emotions and feelings often mask reality.  You need someone to help you see how this young man not only treats you in your dating but how he will treat you in marriage.

You are both gifts from God more priceless than anything else He has given your mother and I to raise.  I love you, both, more than you’ll ever know.  Your mom and I are proud of the young women you’re becoming.  We love you and look forward to that day when you announce that you have found the man that you (and we) have been praying for all these years.  Until (and even after) that day, you’re still, my “little” girls.  I love you….Daddy

What will you be known for?

February 7, 2011

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I can easily be hostage to hyperbole.  “Everyone always…”  “It had to be as big as a plane…”  “That was the worst xxx EVER!”  So, when I say that one of the most powerful testimonies I hear over and over again is the power of a child seeing their parent regularly spending time with God in the Bible and prayer… I don’t want you to hear blah, blah, blah.  Instead, in this case, know that I’m not hyperbolizing (I think I just made up a word :).

When it comes to those who have shared (mostly from the pulpit) one of the most searing memories of their dad, this one is almost always one of them (if it’s a positive memory)—“My dad (or mom) was constantly up in the morning, reading the Word of God and praying”.  That picture of a son or daughter getting up and seeing his dad or mom reading the Bible and spending time in prayer almost ALWAYS has a powerful impact.  I’m guessing that isn’t why mom or dad was doing it.  There’s probably a deeper purpose in spending time in God’s Word and communing with Him.  But, one of the most significant byproducts is the impact it makes on those around you.  There are cases where children see one thing but experience another.  However, if it is a life habit, it nearly always leaves a powerfully positive and lasting legacy in the minds and lives of children.

So, dad, are you cultivating a life of dependence on God?  Do your kids see that in order for you to care for them well, you need to be connected to the source of all help.  Time in the Word and in prayer not only strengthens you for today but reaches into the future to leave a powerful impression and example to your kids!  The good news is that it’s never to late to start.  Even if you’re kids are out of the house they WILL see the impact of a life led by God.  And, there’s always grandkids to teach ;).

Connecting With Your Kids Series: #3- Non-Negotiables

March 25, 2010

I don’t know how many times I heard Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, speak, but I do remember he only had a few messages. Keep Christ as your first love. Help fulfill the Great Commission. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. And as he got older, he also added in prayer and fasting. That’s it.

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Bill Bright knew who he was and what God had called him to do. That allowed him to focus on the non-negotiables. There’s tremendous power in that.

When it comes to connecting with your kids, here are a couple non-negotiables and another that’s working for me. Maybe it’ll work for you, too.

1. Grow in your relationship with God. Make this your #1 priority. Ultimately, you want to not only connect with your kids, but you want to help them connect with God. If you aren’t growing in Him, you can’t do this. You don’t need to be a Bible scholar. You just need to be seeking Him. Are you?

2. Grow in your relationship with your wife. After your relationship with the Lord, your marriage is your highest priority. Not your kids. Not your job. Not golf. Not hunting. It’s your wife. How does this help connect with your kids? Well, take your marriage to the opposite extreme: divorce. Connecting with your kids becomes a lot tougher when you don’t live with their mother. Do your kids know your wife is your highest priority after God? Does your wife know?

3. Spend money to connect. My oldest daughter is visiting us this week from southern California. Her husband is a Marine and she’s taking online courses toward her college degree. They live in a small, but expensive apartment. In other words, money is tight. Of course, my wife and I are both in ministry, so money has always been a little tight for us, too.

And yet, I purchased the plane ticket for Rachel to visit us. Was it in our budget? No. Did it make things a little tighter? Yeah. Could I have used that money to reduce some debt. Sure. But I suspect in twenty years, I won’t regret whatever money I spent that allowed me to connect with my kids. Actually, I don’t even regret it now.

Bottom line: don’t worry so much about how to connect with your kids. Focus instead on being someone they’d actually want to connect with.

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DadPad: Connecting with your Kids

March 22, 2010

One of the most satisfying, yet challenging parts of being a dad is taking/making the time to connect with your children.  It might mean a regular “date” with your son or daughter, teaching them a hobby, going to their sporting events, and/or participating in small group activities with them like bible studies, Boy or Girl Scouts, or Pinewood derby model making.  Admittedly, most of my involvement with my children wasn’t achieved because of a plan but out of what they were currently doing.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that.  However, the most enjoyable times were those that I actually planned and carried out.

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For instance, the year long bible study my son and I did with 5 other dads and their sons, culminating in a celebration event of a two day camping outing for all of the dads and sons, was intentional and memorable.  I intentionally decided to coach my daughters soccer team so that I could be with them and help build character and sportsmanship into their lives.

I also wanted them to build their lives on a foundation of spiritual significance.  So, I spent a lot of time in their early years reading bible stories, discussing biblical principles in age related ways, memorizing scripture and trying to have regular dinner-talk where faith and life intersected so they could see that faith and life are inseparable (or supposed to be).

There are a lot of fathers who’ve done a much better job of making time with their children a priority in their lives than I have.  The issue isn’t who is doing it best but whether you are doing it at all.  Think about it: if you and your child live to average ages, the window of years where you can truly impact their lives is probably about 10-15% of your life.  It doesn’t end when they grow past their teen years but much of who they’ll become has been formed by then.  And, staying involved in their lives as they become adults and have families is critical, too.  Yet, early investments of time and involvement will never come back void and are very difficult to replace.

For the next few days, I’ve asked men who are at varying stages of their fatherhood and to share the way(s) that they have intentionally connected with their kids.  None of us would tell you we’ve done it perfectly.  But, there has been an internal desire to connect with our children in a way that will leave a legacy of good in their lives, let them know we love them and, hopefully, honor God.

We hope that you’ll find an idea or two over the next week that will help spur some effort on your part to begin or encourage you to continue a lifestyle of purposefully finding ways to connect with your kids.  Additionally, we would love to hear how you choose to spend quality time with your children.  Whether it’s a distant relationship because they are grown or separated due to life circumstances (military, divorce, etc) or a life stage (preschool, adolescent, high school, etc), we can always find ways to continue the God-given opportunity we have as dads to “konnect with our kids”.  We hope you enjoy and share in this weeks offering!

Read our first guest post tomorrow, March 23.  Steve Davis, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and a great friend of mine, will share how he’s stayed in touch and connected with his 4 children through years of being gone in military service and helping adjust through multiple moves throughout the United States and Canada.

And, if you read this would you consider sharing this article via Twitter and Facebook? Our desire is not to simply see DadPad grow in numbers but to reach more dads so that we can collaboratively lock arms and help each other become better at this role called Fatherhood.  There are very few classes or training courses offered in this area.  We’ve found that being a dad is a lifelong effort at getting incrementally better each day.  And, it’s done better together.  So, share your thoughts and these articles.  Thank you.

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No Waiting! Aisle One.

November 27, 2009

Black Friday. Today millions of shoppers hit the stores, hoping to snag a one-of-a-kind deal for Christmas. Some have stood in lines formed overnight anticipating the 4 a.m. store openings.

Yet, you can’t rouse that kind of motivation to get up early. Perhaps for a 10-point buck or a walleye, but not for crowded shopping mall. Nope. Instead, you’ll happily remain at home while the rest of the world tramples through mazes of over-promoted product only to return with the hollow satisfaction of saving money on something they may not have otherwise purchased.

Your satisfaction is so much sweeter. There are no lines in the living room, and there’s a whole roster of games and movie marathons to take in. Welcome to Slack Friday. Where there’s plenty of turkey sandwiches, pumpkin pie and the TV remote is king. It’s time to plug in and tune out. Way out.

Then you hear it. “No waiting! Aisle one.” You look around. Must have just been a commercial. What a relief, you think to yourself, to not be out among the maddening crowd. Back to the football action.

There. Again. Once more. “No waiting! Aisle one.”

You realize now that it’s not merely a voice you hear. It’s a prompting. And it’s coming from that leather bound best-seller sitting on your bookshelf. Suddenly you become aware of other voices, too. Familiar voices—those of your children. Yet, strangely, they are now somehow more than your children. They are hungry souls. That’s when it hits you. You are hungry too.

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Dad as Connector – Part 2

November 21, 2009

In my last post, I shared the impact and importance of connecting with my son as his father by inviting him into my world and getting into his.  I’ve also tried to do the same with my daughters.  It’s been more of a challenge and I’m not sure I’ve succeeded but I can say, I’ve worked at it intentionally.

In addition to connecting to my children as their father, I have also worked at connecting my children to other adult men and women to help them mature.  As much as I want to think they just need my advice, I have come to understand, more than I want to admit, that it does indeed “take a village to raise a child” (just keep them away from the village idiot ;).

During the same year we celebrated my son’s entrance into manhood (see part 1), I also asked a few other men that I admire to speak into Bryan’s life during his 16th year.  One of them is a co-author on this blog, Leary Gates.  Additionally, he got connected to some other men of God who could speak to him with wisdom that I didn’t/don’t have and from personal experiences and perspectives of life that I couldn’t possibly offer.  The result has been that my son learned how to communicate, seek assistance and relate with older men.  My daughters have also had mentors enter into their lives to help shape and guide them.  These are relationships that will grow and flourish outside of our home.  And, I’m so thankful they have those relationships for seeking help, information and friendship.

Confession time — it wasn’t easy for me to invite other men into my son’s life.  There’s this little thing called “pride” that gets in the way of doing the things we should do.  While trying to connect Bryan with other men,  it meant laying down my sense of worth in trying to be the “perfect” father (like I could attain that anyway), and letting other men speak into his life.  If they gave him advice that I wished I had given or maybe didn’t agree with, my “nose got a little tweaked”.  Lessons around humility come from many places.  This was one of those that I had to learn–I don’t know it all.  My son is not mine to own but he’s on loan from God for a time to teach, lead and then launch.  He’ll ultimately spend a lot more time with others than he will with me.  Learning how to handle relationships and seek others for help, advice and camaraderie are critical to his maturing into full manhood.

The earlier you guide your children into relationships with other trusted, Godly adults, the more chance they have at learning what it really means to connect at deeper levels with other people.  It’s all part of the maturing process.  Here’s a little guide you can use as you search for these kinds of relationships for your children:

  1. Pray.  Pray that God would give you names of men/women who would be positive role models and mentors for your children.  These might be people you know or those God puts in your life.  Start praying early–like when they’re in the womb :).  If they’re already out, start today.
  2. Talk to your son/daughter about things that interest them and areas they’d like to explore.  These are things that might help you with your prayers for them and who you could pursue to help them build on those areas.
  3. For my wife and I, pursuing men and women who live fully devoted lives to Christ was key.  We believe that our children need to see how others live out their faith.  And, we want them to be able to ask honest questions as they pursue that area of their lives.  Sometimes carrying the title of “mom” or “dad” inhibits that kind of openness.
  4. When you think you find someone, talk to your child about their willingness to meet this other adult?  Determine the setting and frequency that might be best.  If they are a bit older they can start to make those decisions for themselves.
  5. Make sure that both you and the mentor recognize that they will have discussions that will need to be kept confidential and that it needs to be OK for that adult to withhold that information from you (unless to do so would damage the child in some way).  This kind of relationship comes out of trust between you both.  And, make sure your child knows that his/her relationship with the mentor will be kept confidential unless the child OK’s disclosure of discussion topics.
  6. Be a mentor yourself!  Seek out younger men/women that God has placed in your midst and seek to invest in their lives.  You don’t have to be perfect to be a mentor.  You just have to care about others and be breathing.  Perfection is not what they’re seeking.  Caring men and women who have been where they are going is who they want to connect with.

Bottom line–Connecting is a multifaceted process.  You need to connect with your children as I shared in part 1 and you need to connect your children to other Godly men and women who can help them grow to maturity.  Parenting is not for the weak but it is meant to be done in community!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?– How has mentoring affected you or your child’s life?  How have you been positively impacted by someone who shared their life with you in a real and personal way?

Designed for a Purpose

May 15, 2009

We’re at a place in our parenting where we are seeing how uniquely gifted and skilled each of our children/young adults are as individuals. Two of our three are in college. The oldest will graduate from John Brown University next year. What looked like an arrow being shot toward a medical position caught a strong wind and is being redirected to a yet unidentified target.

This is pretty common among 18-22 year olds who enter into school without having ever really answered these two questions; Who am I? and Why am I here? As followers of Christ, we’ve brought up our children in a Christian home but have always taught them that they have to own their faith if it’s ever going to transform THEM. Our faith in their lives will do them no good when “life happens”. And, along with that, based on my own life journey, we’ve strongly encouraged them to explore their interests and abilities as those given to them by God for a purpose. Not simply to earn a living but to live abundantly. Both of these questions are fodder for great material which I will explore throughout the life of this blog. For now, let me go a little deeper on the question about being “purposely made for God’s glory”.

Graduation day from Richfield High School some XX years ago (ok, vanity aside…31 yrs to be exact) was a memorable day. I remember walking on the floor of the old Met Center (where the old North Stars, who were stolen by Dallas, played—no bitterness harnessed here 😉 ) as one of nearly 700 classmates. It was the pinnacle of my life to that point. Didn’t care about tomorrow and was only looking forward to the party that night. However, tomorrow did come. And, I was ill prepared for what it brought or what I brought to it.

Math always came easy for me. Without any further prompting, testing or counseling, it was an easy step for me to consider a math oriented major at the University of Minnesota. I was accepted into the U of M’s Institute of Technology to pursue an engineering degree. There was only one problem: I lacked passion or vision for that career path. After two semesters I flamed out. Now what? Well, I decided to pursue a childhood passion; radio broadcasting. Long story short, I worked at a small station in Alliance, NE for three months before things fell apart. Ultimately, I went back to playing to my aptitude and not my passion or interests (ended up in Accounting).

How does this affect my parenting/coaching my kids in this arena? God’s design of their aptitudes, passions and interest must supersede my plans for my kids. Only the Creator knows how His creation should work to their 45_chariots_20of_20firefullness. Therefore, I’m encouraging my kids to take some of the multitude of tests out there that help them uncover the things they already innately know about themselves, i.e., what makes them tick. Eric Liddell, the speedy Scotsman portrayed in the movie, Chariots of Fire, made this statement that summarizes my thoughts on the issue of being fit for God’s purposes: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” I believe all of us can say that about something. Maybe it’s not running and maybe you won’t be able to make a living at it. But, when you know what it is, you can direct your path accordingly and you’ll be more satisfied and effective.

Though I didn’t make it in radio for the long haul, I came to realize that when I participated in activities that allowed me to use my God-given creativity, I was more energized and excited about life.  Let me encourage you, dads, to help your children (at the appropriate age) figure out how they are wired. I’m still trying  to help my son figure this thing out. The major tests that they can take (you should take them too to help you discuss it with them–we did and it’s a lot of fun for the family) are the DISC and the Meyers-Briggs. There are variations of these tests and many more available online and in-person for more in depth validation.  We’ve also read a book called, The Power of Uniqueness by Arthur Miller Jr. and Bill Hendricks.  In addition to finding out how you were wired for work, you should also take one or more of the Spiritual Gifting tests around, like the Network Spiritual Gifts test.

By helping your child find out what they were “fearfully and wonderfully made” to do, you will help them to see how they can best be used for God’s glory and in their God-given strengths.

SOUND OFF: What have you done to identify your passions and interests? How have you helped your children work in their strengths and build them for a lifetime of serving / working in them, either vocationally or avocationally?

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Knee Pads Required

March 25, 2009

Growing up in a home that was irreligious (not anti-Christian, just no evidence of faith lived out), the practices of faith were never expressed in a way that I would catch them.  Prayer was not an everyday practice except for the mealtime ritual speed mumbling of “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest.  And let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen”.  We usually said that so fast that I don’t know if I really knew what I was praying until I just wrote them above.  It sounded more like, “Comelordjesus be-r-guest andletthesegiftstousbeblessed.  Amen.”

Needless to say, the power of this prayer was probably lost in translation. When I came to a personal relationship with Christ at the ripe age of 17, I began to understand the part Prayer played (and plays) in a relationship with God.  (more…)

Playing to Your Strengths

February 27, 2009

scan00202I played quarterback in high school. Our best pass play was a draw if that gives you any indication as to what kind of a passer I was. Unfortunately, I never really learned to throw well until after I graduated.

I was good at managing the game though. I focused on the basics, made few mistakes and carried out my assignments. After one particular game, I was given the award for outstanding offensive player of the game and I don’t remember throwing a single pass. I was just good at playing to my strengths.

When it comes to being a dad, there are some things I’m good at and others, like being able to throw deep, I’m not so good at, so I’ve chosen to play to my strengths. For example, (more…)