Train Up a Child

Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I don’t know what you hear when you read this verse (or hear someone using it to tell you how to raise your child), but this is what I hear: “Raise your kid right. Teach him all the rules about how to live a Godly life and how to treat other people and when he is old, he will live that way. Train him to be a Godly man, and he won’t go down the wrong path. Whatever you teach him or forget to teach him, will determine how he will live and if he will be a productive member of society.”

Well..I hear something like that anyway. However, this is NOT what the Scripture says. I’m not going to debate all the ins and outs of what I hear, but I do want to point out what the verse actually says. Charles F Boyd says:

“The phrase ‘in the way he should go’ does not refer to some prescribed path that every person should follow. In the Hebrew language, the phrase is better rendered, ‘according to his way.’ And the Hebrew word for ‘way’ is derek, which literally means ‘bent’ and refers to a unique inner design or direction.” 

This verse is not about rules and a path, but about a relationship with my children. It means I’ve got to learn how God made them – their spiritual gifts, their skills/abilities, their passions/heart. I need to work at God’s side. God designed my children a certain way for His specific purposes and my role is to watch them closely, to recognize God’s handiwork, and then to join Him to strengthen and grow those gifts within them. I need to pay attention to the people in their lives and the opportunities that God presents to them. All of these things can be pieces to discovering God’s will for their lives. In order to “train them up in the way they should go,” I’m going to have to know something about the way they should go. Building close relationships is my best chance at getting that part right.

In the world we live in, it’s clear that people are able to accomplish more when they operate in the their strengths. That’s what this verse is about: finding our kids “strengths” (spiritual gifts) and then training them to develop those gifts to their full potential.

Shadow

I love this picture I took of Kasen and I the other day. I love seeing him riding alongside daddy’s shadow. I wish you could hear the sounds he was making at this very moment. He was laughing and smiling as he just enjoyed being with daddy and doing tricks on his bike. It’s my prayer that he always loves being near daddy’s shadow. And even more importantly, I pray that he will one day realize that it’s God’s shadow that he should seek to be near.  I can’t help but think about Psalm 36, “People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” When no one else is near, when no one else can help, when no one else can protect or give him comfort, God can. I pray that he enjoys being with God like he enjoyed being with daddy that day. If so, his laughter and smiles will be more than laughter and smiles. They will be an offering of praise to the Lord. I couldn’t help but smile that day and I believe God will smile with him too.


P.S.
Riding bikes is one of our favorite things to do. At 3, Kasen rides over a mile to the store to get a snack with daddy and then back home. He’s been riding without training wheels since the week of his 3rd birthday and is even beginning to do “tricks” these days. (like riding with one hand, coasting with no feet, putting his feet on the forks of the front wheel, or standing up and riding)

 

Miracle

Eric and I playing a Concert

I was a witness to a miracle a few years ago. Let me tell you the story: I used to play in a Christian worship band that recorded a couple of CDs and traveled around to play a few gigs. We played for church services, youth camps, and in coffeehouses, etc. Anyway, one night after rehearsal I was talking with my buddy Eric as we tore down the equipment. I packed my stuff up and took it out to my car and then headed back in to turn out the lights and lock up. I met Eric in the building as he was getting his stuff packed up. (He played electric guitar and carried around a lot of equipment.) We continued talking and carried his equipment out to his truck to load it up.

There it was!!! Did you catch it?? The miracle I witnessed that night was incredible!!

OK….maybe it wasn’t the parting of the Red Sea or anything, but it was still a miracle! Let me explain: I absolutely HATE loading and unloading music equipment. I’ve done it for years and it’s the worst part of being a musician. But that night as I talked to Eric, I served him by helping him carry his stuff out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but here’s why it’s so significant. I never actually thought about it. I never made the decision to help him or to carry his stuff. As I talked to him, I just naturally picked it up without even thinking about it. Because of my friendship with him, I served him without any thought. Service just came naturally. It was almost an accident. It was out of the overflow of our friendship and my love for my friend that I ended up serving him.

I think God intended for us to serve this way too. Christians are great at making decisions to serve. They decide to go on a mission trip or to volunteer as a Sunday School teacher or VBS helper, etc. Those are great decisions and I believe we should make them as often as possible. But I also wonder: If we had a closer friendship with God, do you think we might serve Him without thinking about it? Could we end up serving God by accident? What would it take for service to be a reflex instead of a decision?? Have you ever told somebody about God without thinking about it? Does the name of Jesus come out of your mouth out of the overflow of your heart? Have you ever helped someone just ‘cause you loved them so much?

Ephesians 2:4-5a “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ.”

God’s love is what motivated Him to send Jesus to the world. His love should motivate us to serve Him. (Check out John 14:15 too.)

Prayer: Lord, invade my life in such a powerful way that I’d be able to serve you without thinking about it. Let service & love become a reflex in my life and not only a decision. Mold me into a man who reflects You in everything I do – not just when I make conscious decisions, but also in my everyday quick reactions and interactions with people. Teach me to love others like You love them and cause that love to overflow out of me in simple everyday acts of service. AMEN!

PS: Eric, if you’re out there and reading this, I miss you. Wish I we lived closer and I had the opportunity to carry your stuff to your truck again. Those were good times. I’ll say a prayer for you and your family tonight.

Micro Expressions

Did you know that our emotions come out in our faces? Of course you did. Poker players bank on it – looking for the “tell” in the other players faces. Everyone looks into the eyes of the one they love when they’re being told “I love you.” Why? So you can determine the sincerity behind the words. According to the experts, we also make “micro expressions” which happen so quickly that the average onlooker doesn’t even pick up on it. Some expressions are made on purpose, but these “micro expressions” are involuntary. Everyone makes them and no one is very good at controlling them.

So what? Well, this means that if we could learn to watch for these micro expressions, we could better understand one another. Is this what Jesus did? Did Jesus just know how to pick up on things more than we do?

All this sort of reminds me of the TV show, “The Mentalist.” The guy isn’t some sort of psychic or anything, he just notices what others don’t notice and is able to put the story together in ways that no one else was able to think of.

Another thought. . .do you think a body of people (like a church) might make “micro expressions” without knowing it? I mean, we just went through a process with a mediator. His job was to tell us what we didn’t recognize about ourselves. Is that what he does? Look for our micro expressions? How can we build the kind of relationships with people that would allow us to recognize these micro expressions? If we did so, how would our lives be different?

Anyway, these were just some random thoughts today that came to me from reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Rule of 150

Start of the Humber Half- Marathon June 29th
Creative Commons License photo credit: cwarkup

“The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell describes the concept of the “Rule of 150.” I’ll try to give you a summary, but I’d recommend the book too.

In anthropological literature the number 150 shows up again and again. Out of 21 different tribes, the average number of people in their villages is 148.8. Military planners have arrived at a rule of thumb which states that no more than 200 men should be in a fighting unit together. Over the centuries they have discovered that you simply cannot get too many more than 150 men to know each other well enough to function well in working together. The human brain has even been tested and it’s based upon the neocortex ratio, estimates have been made that the maximum group size for humans is 147.8. A religious group called the Hutterites who have lived in self-sufficient communities together for hundreds of years have a strict policy that every time a community reaches 150, they split into two and start a new one. “Keeping things under 150 just seems to be the best and most efficient way to manage a group of people,” says Bill Gross, one of their leaders.  A group of 150 can be knit together, but more than that and we become strangers. Fellowship gets lost.

Gladwell goes on to describe Gore Associates, the company that makes “Gore-Tex” fabric. At Gore, no one has a title. The idea is that everyone is on the same playing field – everyone matters. (Kind of reminds me of 1 Corinthians 12 and how the Body of Christ works.) People don’t have bosses, but mentors and sponsors. Salaries are determined collectively. There are no corner offices. Instead they use those “nice” spaces for conference rooms and public areas. They have a rate of turnover in their company that is a third the industry standard. “Bill” Gore, the founder of the company stumbled into the principal, but once said, “We found again and again that things get clumsy at a hundred and fifty,” and he made it the company goal to have no more than 150 employees at each plant. Long term planning is described as “put[ting] a hundred and fifty parking spaces in the lot, and when people start parking on the grass, we know it’s time to build a new plant.” Sometimes they build plants right across the parking lot fom one another, but it still kept the people separated enough to build their individual communities.

The Rule of 150 describes the kind of relationships where you know someone well enough that what they think of you matters. Robin Dunbar says that in a group of 150, “orders can be implemented and unruly behavior controlled on the basis of personal loyalties and direct man-to-man contacts.” Formal middle and upper management structures are not needed at a company like Gore ’cause in groups that size, informal personal relationships are much more effective. Peer pressure is much more effective than a boss. Another benefit is that when the sales guys know the manufacturing guys, he can go directly to them to discuss how best to serve their customers.

Imagine the implications of this theory. I wonder what the “break room” looks like at Gore? Probably doesn’t have all the little cliques like I remember seeing in the last break room I was in. I wonder how the church could benefit from these ideas? What happens to the community within a church at 150? What kinds of structures could we do away with if we worked towards multiple churches with no more than 150? Would things be more healthy and sustainable? Would we have the same kind of petty arguments? and if so, could they be handled differently, under this type of system? How would accountability be affected? I’m just wondering about some of this stuff, and thought I run it past you guys. Anyone else have any thoughts? How ’bout you Hans?

Persuasion

I love it when someone can convey a message with nothing but questions. Here’s a blog from seth godin that does just that:


Persuade
How do I persuade you?

Do I show you a powerpoint filled with bullets?
Or give you a spirited sales pitch while looking you in the eye…

Perhaps I should send a very attractive salesperson.

Do I amplify my word of mouth and be sure you hear about my idea from three people you trust?
Do I minimize fear or maximize gain?

Are you best persuaded in a group, surrounded by your boss or your
employees or your family or people you trust? Will it matter if those
around you give me a standing ovation?

Can I persuade you over time, drip, drip, drip, or do you respond better if you feel an avalanche is coming?

Will you change your mind if I’m funny? Or if I scare you to pieces?

Perhaps there’s no way you’ll be persuaded. Perhaps nothing I can
say will make a difference. However, you’ve told yourself that before
and been wrong…

Will you buy if you get a discount? What if the price is high and going up tomorrow?

Do you want to be the first person to embrace an idea (or the last)?

Here’s the thing: unlike every other species, human beings make
decisions differently from one another. And the thing that persuades
you is unlikely to be the thing that persuades the next guy. Our
personal outlook is a lousy indicator of what works for anyone else.


It’s interesting to me that in the end, it all comes down to relationships. The best way to influence/persuade anyone, is to first understand that person and his/her needs, thoughts, & desires. Since each of us makes decisions differently, wouldn’t it make sense to figure that out before trying to influence them? Well, that is, if you have time to get to know them and the message/influence is important enough. Is the eternal message of Jesus as Lord important enough? Important enough to invest in getting to know others in such a way that we can persuade them?

Who will you get to know? How will you get to know them? Since no one cares what you know until they know you care, how will you love them? Care for them? Will that love and care be real or will it stop once the “project” is over and they have come to know Jesus?

Conflict & Reconciliation

ConflictMatthew 18:15-20 – If someone sins against you, then you are responsible for going to them to explain how they’ve hurt you and seek reconciliation.

Matthew 5:23 – If you have sinned against someone, then you are responsible for going to them seeking reconciliation.

I can’t help but notice that we are personally responsible for all of our relationships – even if someone has wronged us. No matter who has sinned – we are personally responsible. If we as Christians would practice this, we’d have both parties coming to each other simultaneously seeking reconciliation. Does that ever happen? I’d say it’s pretty rare – most of the time at least one of the parties wants to hold a grudge or be bitter about it all. Have you ever heard anyone say that so and so didn’t handle this or that biblically ’cause they didn’t come to me about it. According to these Scriptures, the person saying that is just as much in the wrong. The one instance I’m not sure about is this – what if you know someone has a problem with you – there is broken relationship, and they are accusing you falsely. If they don’t come to us (which doesn’t happen very often) then are we responsible to go to them? When we haven’t sinned?

Romans 14 talks about this stuff too. Verse 13 says, “Don’t put any stumbling block in your brothers way.” It’s critical to realize that this is talking about “stumbling” in regards to their relationship with Christ. It doesn’t apply to someone being offended that you wore jeans to church. In issues of preference, we are to accept one another without passing judgment (14:1) and yet still lovingly defend our own position (14:16) – always remembering to “make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (14:19)

It’s interesting to me that we are each responsible for maintaining good relationships in regards to sin and hurting one another (which has to do with division in the body), but in other areas we are instructed to live lovingly an humbly in  the tension of different viewpoints and preferences. It makes complete sense really – it’s all about priorities and keeping the main thing the main thing.

Relationships and Vision

Leadership_2 I started back to class last night and had a great experience once again. This class is going to focus on Relationships and Vision in Leadership – the horizontal parts of the leadership compass. I’m excited about it ’cause these are the areas I’ve stressed over my years in ministry. It’s hard to lead people anywhere if you don’t have some sort of relationship with them. It’s also hard to lead them, if you don’t have some dream about how things should be. I’ve always seen myself as an adventurer and really enjoy experiencing new things (except when it comes to food). Anyway, because of this, vision is fun for me.

We’re supposed to do a group movie project and I got voted to be the leader. When everyone was deciding which part of the leadership compass (Character, Skills, Relationships, Vision) they wanted to work with, I got the leftovers. I guess that’s how a leader should do it, but the good news is that the leftover point was “vision.” It’s the one I would have chosen anyway. God is good! We’re going to analyze Patch Adams’ through this leadership model.

Wizard of Oz Leadership

Wizard
In doing some homework today, I was reminded of a seminar I went to that was talking about the difference between modern and postmodern leadership. I personally think the example they gave fits more with Biblical leadership and worldly leadership. Anyway, the main idea is that worldly leadership is like that of the Wizard and Jesus’ leadership is like Dorthy.

The Wizard’s Leadership (Similar to the World)
He hid behind the machine(organization) and commanded others what to do.
He intimidated others.
He wanted things his way.
He tried not to be a real person, but just a voice.
There was a lot of smoke and mirrors with his leadership.
In the end, he was a fraud.

Dorthy’s Leadership (Similar to Jesus)
She journeyed with her followers and led out of relationships
Her followers were also friends and she sympathized with them.
She wanted what was best for them.
She didn’t let anything keep her from moving forward.
When there were battles, she was a part of the fight.
She kept them on the right track (yellow brick road).
She was an encourager.
She was child-like and humble.
She skipped and sang a lot and had a dog.

There were alot more ideas that people had that day, but this is all I can remember and I haven’t been able to find my notes from that day. Anyway, I think you get the idea. It’s a fun way to look at leadership.

Stories I Need to Tell – Pretending to Sleep

My nephew Tyler was a little shy about his relationship with me and so he did something interesting one night. We were riding in the back of the car from an evening out to dinner or something and he pretended to be asleep. You see, he understood that if he were asleep when we got to his house, that I would carry him in and tuck him into bed. Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen him watching me, so I knew he was awake. I loved the fact that he wanted that moment with me enough to pretend to be asleep.

I wonder if Jesus felt that way with Nicodemas in John 3? Nick was embarrassed or scared for anyone to know he wanted a relationship with Jesus so he came to Him at night. Do you think Jesus felt the same way I did when Tyler pretended to be asleep to so he could have a special little stolen moment with me? I wonder what I could do today that would make Jesus feel that way again?