Thoughts that inspire, challenge, and help increase your influence

A Quick Look In the Mirror

And that’s when I knew I had a problem.

My 2 year old was running towards me in a panic, “Daddy, Daddy!  You’re Phone!”  “What’s wrong?”, I asked.  “You need to put it in your pocket!” she emphatically responded.

My daughter had, through observation of my behavior, come to the conclusion that I was not complete without my cell phone attached to me in some way.  It was as much a part of me as anything else she observed.  It was a deep concern for my well-being that told her an immediate reaction was necessary when she found my phone on my nightstand and I was in the other room.

This became a consistent pattern and had me thinking about what I was modeling to my  very new-to-the-world daughter.  What have I already shown her about the way the world works?  Did I just screw myself for the teenage years?  Now when she has a phone attached to her and won’t pay attention to her family, is there where it all began?  

The folks over at Fuller Youth Institute just shared some research I think you will find worth your time to read.  They interviewed “50 amazing parents” and published a book based on their findings in relation to what they call “Sticky Faith”.  Basically, faith that stands the test of time.  Faith that sticks long after the kids leave the nest.

If you’re interested in the book, you can find it here: The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Kids

Here’s a portion of what they found when it comes to technology use in the home:

One of the most dominant themes in our fifty parents’ descriptions of their homes is that they limit their kids’ use of technology.

These boundaries are needed because of the way young people today are marinated in media.

Let’s consider together a generation whose lives are heavily flavored by technology:

• Fifty-eight percent of this generation possess a desktop computer.

• Sixty-one percent own a laptop.

• Eighteen percent use a tablet or e-reader.

But the real king of all technology is the device in their pocket. Almost 90 percent of this generation carry a cell phone. 1

When asked to describe their cell phone in one word, this generation answered, “Awesome,” “Great,” “Good,” “Love,” “Excellent,” “Useful,” and “Convenient.” 2

You might be thinking that some of those words don’t sound very adolescent. Especially the words useful and convenient. That’s because the generation I’m describing isn’t teenagers. It’s adults.

Are young people avid users of technology? You bet. But the data suggests that while teenagers may be digital natives, we adults are fast-adapting digital immigrants. Before we judge teenagers for their quick-texting thumbs and seemingly permanent earbuds, we adults need to put down our smartphones and think about our own media consumption.

Eighty-three percent of young people are involved in social networking. So are 77 percent of their parents. 3

– See more of the article here:  Parents’ Smartphones:  Sticky Faith Builder or Breaker?

When I read this article, it was just like my 2 yr old running up to me again.  For a time, I was very cognizant of how I was using technology.  My wife and I even discussed a “technology basket” where we dropped our phones or iPads when we were in the family room with the girls.  This is especially important when we get home from work and they so greatly desire our attention.

I hate to admit it, but the conviction has waned and the old habits resurfaced.

What about you?  Do you feel like you have adopted the same practices you complain that your children have?  Do you feel like technology is hampering your communication?  Or you may feel like technology has improved your communication?

Either way, I think it is important to evaluate our relationship with technology from time to time.  I know I need to.  I encourage you to take some time this week and evaluate the role of technology in your home to see what you find.

If you feel the need to make some changes, I’ve written on ideas for restricting technology use and you can find those thoughts here:  Raising Kids in the Digital Age – Part 3

I would encourage you to read part 1 of the series as well, so you can understand the heart behind the restrictions.  The last thing I want to do is encourage you to do something that drives a wedge in the relationship and I think part 1 will help you understand the “why” behind the restrictions and better approach conversations with your son or daughter.

(I mention the use of a family agreement in the restrictions.  Here’s an article with an example of one family’s contract with their son –

Feel free to share how you’ve navigated these waters in your own family in the comments below!

One Last Call for Hope

“The nature of human beings is to be inactive unless influenced by some affection:  love or hatred, desire, hope, fear, etc.  Those affections are the ‘spring of action,’  the things that set us moving in our lives, that move us to engage in activities.”  — Jonathon Edwards

“We have this (hope) as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…”  –Hebrews 6:19

I never intended to write more than one post on fear and hope, but as I’ve gone about my days I’ve found that many people need hope in a very real way in their lives right now.  I need hope.  Let’s be honest, we live in a world where fear can easily be an influence in the way we live our daily lives.  If it’s not personal fears specific to your day, it’s Ebola or the Islamic State!

Currently, as a youth pastor and a dad of two young girls, I need hope.  I’ve seen enough and been in enough counseling situations to know what this world is capable of.  I’ve seen the students who are truly good kids get swept away in the currents of adolescence.  And here’s where it gets tricky:  If I allow fear to rule the day on this as I think about my own kids, I will go crazy!  I mean that as genuinely as possible.  I would go crazy.

I have no choice but to surrender to God my worries and fears and declare that I ultimately have no control over the future.  But this isn’t a passive surrender, it’s a daily surrender, it’s a ‘spring of action’ that allows hope to grow into confidence and confidence into rest and trust.  It becomes an anchor that can handle the realities of this world, knowing that God can influence the future and ultimately already has!

“Happy is the one whose hope is in the Lord” (Ps 146:5) isn’t just a scripture to be memorized, it’s a real state that motivates how we live our lives.  Sure, Ebola and ISIL gives pause and cause for concern, but “I have this hope that anchors my soul.”  I will not be shaken.

An Exercise to Determine Your Motivations

In the above quote, Edwards states that we would all be inactive if it were not for our “affections”, as he calls them.  What motivates your actions – love, hope, fear, hate or a softer version of hate?


Examine your actions, simply writing down the things you do without any judgement.  At the end of the week sit down and pencil in a probable motivation for each action.  Try to be honest as you examine why you did what you did.

I would love to hear what you discover!

(Exercise taken from a great book I’ve been trying to wake up and read before the kids wake.  If you are looking for a book to stir your affections in your spiritual life, this book is a great option -


Hope, Not Fear – Part II

In the last post I shared a story of the struggle my parents had in sending their high school son to a third-world country.  My mom shared that when she dropped me off at the airport and watched me walk off, she quietly prayed, “Well, he’s yours anyways.  He’s always belonged to You.”

Your Kids Are Not Your Own

Isn’t there great comfort in knowing your kids are not your own!  I remember leaving the hospital with our newborn child and thinking, “Are the nurses sure they can let us go?  Are we sure we know what we’re doing?  I don’t know that we can be trusted to do what is needed to take care of this new life.”  Despite all this, the nurses let us leave the hospital and we began our journey as parents.

In that moment, we had no choice but to ultimately hope that God was with us.  Our child was entrusted to us by a loving God who promises not to leave us or forsake us.  There is peace knowing that for as much as I love my kids, their Creator loves them with a more perfect love that I could ever muster.

You’re child is not your own.  Let that be of comfort to you.  Let that truth sink in and push fear to the sidelines.

“May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

–Romans 15: 13

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

–Philippians 4: 6

Sharing the Hope

Now that we realize God is and will always be God and we have incredible reason to hope and dream for our children’s future because of who He is, let’s get practical.

If we listen to ourselves we often verbally share our fears with our kids.  We let them know what we worry about or what we are anxious about.  We let them know the dangers out  in the world and rightly so!  BUT, what if we also shared our hopes with our kids as well.  Here’s an example:

Your kid has the keys and license, now what!?

They know all your fears for them.  You’ve shared them with them.  Now share your hopes for them!  “You know I hope that when you have your car, you really grow in independence.  I’m excited for you to have some freedom and I hope that you find someway to be involved in what God is doing in this world.”

Ask them questions around what you hope for them.  Invite them to dream about what is possible.  Now that you have some freedom, what is something you’ve always wanted to do or be a part of?  How can you honor God with your new found freedom? 

We have some high schoolers in our community that have decided it’s worth it to wake up at 4:30am on Thursday mornings to go feed the homeless!  These students are choosing to do this on their own, often without their parents help.  Through their independence and ability to drive they are finding out they can significantly contribute to God’s kingdom and their community.

We’re going steady (Or whatever kids say these days) 

Or how about dating?  Again, they know your fears as they begin to date.  They’ve probably heard them for years.  I currently (and consistently) give my 4 and 2 year old daughters lessons on dating, because you can never start too soon!

But, what are your hopes when your kids are dating?  “I hope that in this relationship you find out more about yourself and it helps you become a better person.  I hope that you are respected and you respect this person.  I hope this relationship helps you grow into the person God is calling you to be.”  (I think you can have this same conversation in a negative tone, but the idea is to inspire them with your belief in what is possible for them.)

Keeping the Conversation Going

I have to believe that our sons and daughters will appreciate and engage in these conversations.  Maybe not to the level we hope, but don’t you think they will continue thinking about them after they leave our presence?  As they drive off in the car, won’t they think…man, my parents really believe I can do something significant!

We all know how fear can shut down a conversation.  “Mom, I know.  I’ve heard this a million times.  I will be careful, ok?!”.  Our goal as parents is to keep the conversation going.  To keep inviting our kids to dream about what they are capable of and who they are becoming.  To use their freedom responsibly and grow towards adulthood.

Will this work?  I wish I could say yes, but we all know their are no guarantees.  However, I will always try to keep the conversation alive and keep pointing my kids towards a God who gives us nothing but reason to hope.

What do you think?  Do you think your kids will respond to this type of conversation?  Do you think sharing your hopes will lead to a different outcome?

Hope, Not Fear.

“Every decision we make today will be driven by fear or love.  Who we toss the keys to determines a lot about the destination.”  –Bob Goff

Several years ago a good friend of mine gave a talk on parenting out of hope, as opposed to parenting out of fear and it has stuck with me.  I didn’t have kids then, but I knew I needed to remember this message.  At the time, parenting out of fear was easy to dismiss, however I knew enough about parenting to realize fear can be a constant companion.  Now that I’m a parent, I know that a lot of time is spent worrying about the big and meaningful and small and trivial.  It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about our kids.  It’s easy to begin to parent and make decisions based on that worry or fear.

Think about it.  What emotions do you experience when you anticipate any major milestone in your child’s life?  First steps.  First day of school.  First taste of failure or rejection.  Dating relationships.  Driving.  College.

You get the idea.  There can be a lot of worry, anxiety, and fear in these situations.  Do these emotions drive your response?  Do you quickly rush in to build fences of protection?  Are your actions motivated by fear above all else?

Helicopters and Lawnmowers

In our culture today, there’s a reason many parents are described as “helicopter parents” who monitor and watch over their child’s every move (“How helicopter parents are ruining college students”).  Or, even worse, “lawnmower parents” who mow over any obstacle in their kids path (“Don’t Be a Helicopter Or Lawnmower Parent”).

But, what if we didn’t let fear rule the day?  What if we decided to adopt a posture of hope for our kids?  Instead of spending anxious energy worrying about possibilities that may exist “out there”, what if we began to pray our hopes and our dreams for our kids in these situations?

When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to go on a trip with a small group of people.  It was incredible opportunity to spend a week with my youth pastor, the director of a large Christian summer camp, and other men and women who would have a huge impact on my life.  It was a chance to do something significant that would change my worldview.  It was a chance to have a formative experience in the this great big world we live in.

The problem for my parents was that it was in Haiti, a third-world country where my safety could not be guaranteed.  A country where our car might be surrounded by a large crowd at the airport (which it was) or where I would find my self in the presence of automatic weapons often (which I did) or where we would be taking a picture of the beautiful countryside and then get rushed into the bus because we were no longer safe there and needed to leave quickly (which happened).

My parents had a lot to be afraid of and plenty of fear and worry, but they allowed me to go.  They chose to adopt a posture of hope.  They chose to hope that this trip would expand my heart for God.  They hoped it would be a trip where I rubbed shoulders with adult men and women who were following Jesus with all they had.  They hoped I would see poverty up close and understand more about God’s heart for the orphan and the oppressed.  They hoped I would go on a great adventure and it would plant a seed to continue to follow God into the tough places and be a light to those in need.

It was their hope, not their fear, that came true and that trip remains a significant part of who I am and my faith journey.  If fear ruled the day, my parents would have been seen as reasonable and responsible parents.  No one would have faulted them.  But I wouldn’t have experienced the growth and transformation that trip allowed.  This trip shaped my high school years and ultimately my future.  I’m thankful for their courage.

Echoing Jesus’ Prayer

Recently, I came across Jesus prayer in John 17 and decided to adopt it for my own kids.  As Jesus’ time on earth is coming to an end, he prays for those he will be leaving behind.  Jesus knows what is out there and what they will be up against.  He knows the dangers of the world and desires to protect those he loves.  Knowing this he prays:

“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name…my prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”  John 17: 11, 15

For my kids, my prayer is that they will engage the world and be a light of God’s love to those they meet.  In order to grow into the strong, courageous person that requires, I have to let go of control.  I have to take risks.  I have to allow them to fail.  I need to give them space to grow and explore.  Is that going to be easy?  It’s not proving to be.  But when I step back and imagine the end (my little girls as adults living in the world), I know the answer lies in hope not in fear.  God, give us the courage to trust you, cultivate hope and smother fear.

What does it look like for you to echo Jesus prayer for you kids?  What protections do you need to trust God for?  What ways do you need to allow them to stay in the world and engage?  In what ways are you doing God’s job of protecting and need to take a step back?

There will be a part two to this post coming soon with some practical thoughts on this can play out, but until then:

Who are you giving the keys to –  fear or hope?


Feel free to share in the comments below!


Myth:  Your teen doesn’t want a relationship with you.

Truth:  It’s not that your teen doesn’t want a relationship with you, they just want a different relationship.

Parents with teenagers don’t need to disengage, they need to re-engage and redefine.  They need you as much now as they did when they were a child.”

–Reggie Joiner

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