Tag: responsibility

How to be a Perfect Parent

Sweaty but eager, we gather around our tennis coach after a drill.  In wrapping up, he reminds us of something he says often about “winning”. “Instead of worrying about whether you’re winning, you need to just stay in the present point. You need to detach from the outcome.”

Immediately one of the other moms on the team says, “That’s what I do with my kids!”

Does that mean she doesn’t care if her kids are convicts or racists or just neglect to say “thank you”? Not at all! It just means that she knows she can only be responsible for her part.

When they’re little that includes coaching and consequences, time-outs and training.

And prayer. Lots of prayer.

I have a mentor friend who used to tell her kids, “I have you basically for 18 years and I’m going to steward that time as wisely and prayerfully as I can.” Does that mean when they turned 18 she tore up her “mom card” and said “Phew, I’m done!”? Absolutely not. She continues to pray, trusting God to get her kids where they need to go. 

Another friend has a grown daughter with issues. She kept rescuing her daughter from the consequences of her bad choices as an adult until she had a “Detach from the outcome” moment. She realized her actions were driven by what others might think of her as a parent if they saw her daughter’s destructive behavior. She opened her hands and acknowledged that her daughter was differentiated from her – an adult, responsible for her own choices. Again, that didn’t mean she stopped loving and praying fervently for her daughter. It meant she clarified what was her job, and what was her daughter’s job.

But the other day I was talking to one of my closest friends about a family member we’ve prayed for for 15 years without seeing the fruit we have begged God for. WHY Lord?

I wonder…What might it have been like for the father in the parable of the prodigal son?

How long was the son gone? How long did the dad pray?

Did he go over in his mind all the mistakes he had made as a parent? The times when he lost his temper? The times they skipped family devotions? That time he was too busy to play catch? Did he struggle to trust God to forgive and redeem his parental shortcomings?

Did he pray, somedays feeling like it was hopeless – like his son would never come to his senses?

He let his son go. He let him experience the consequences of his actions. Did he fight the urge every day to run to the “far country” and rescue him?

Did he struggle to know what his part was and what God’s part was? What the parable says is that he kept waiting and watching.

When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

How can you be a perfect parent? You admit you’re not, and you embrace your job to pray and wait and watch, trusting the only One who is.

God, the one and only—
    I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
    so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
    breathing room for my soul… Psalm 62:5-6

 

 

A Post For Young Leaders

The other night John and I got an email. You know…one of those emails. The ones that make your heart race and your stomach do flip-flops. An email criticizing something you’ve done or said.

In this case it was me being criticized, but they wanted John, as senior pastor to know.

As a first-born rule-follower, people-pleaser with WOO as one of my strengths, this is just the worst. And being in ministry for 35 years, it’s been my biggest area of growth.

When I was younger, my immediate response would be ALL THE FEELS – embarrassment, shame, righteous indignation, anger, and (as a J on the Meyers Briggs)….. IMMEDIATE ACTION!!

Is is darn hard living with people’s displeasure, whether we’ve made a mistake, or there has been a misunderstanding, or we just disagree. There is no way to make all the people happy all the time.

This is the hardest lesson I’ve learned as a leader: It’s not my job to please everyone, but it is my job to pray and pay attention in order to learn from everyone.

This is the challenge for each of us: To allow criticism to teach us more about God, ourself, and others. 

I’ve grown a tiny bit over the years (and I’ve gotten much more used to criticism), so after my brief emotional freak out over this recent email, I settled down, prayed, and went to sleep.

The next morning I prayed again.

  • I listed all the issues I thought the critique-r raised.
  • I listed all the questions I needed to talk to God about, including “What is true? What is from You? How do I please not the critic, but YOU?”
  • Then I went through Scripture typing out any pertinent passage that might inform my thinking about the issues raised.

  • I prayed some more.
  • I wrote a response to the offended person and asked if we could talk face-to-face, but I didn’t send it immediately. I let it sit and came back to it 5 hours later.

 One of our rules is “Never argue in email.” I stand by this because body language, tone, and nuance are so important, and so easy to misinterpret in email, but I also see the value in putting something in writing that others can take the time to read over and process.

  • Before I sent it, I asked myself:
    • “Does this fail of grace?”
    • “Is there pride, resentment, self-righteousness…that I need to confess and deal with before sending this?”

In this case, I was fortunate because the critic who had been offended is someone healthy and well-meaning.

But that’s not always the case. One of the hardest parts of dealing with criticism is letting go.

We do our part. We pray and search for the kernel of truth. We apologize when appropriate, but we can’t control the response of the other. 

As Jesus-followers we’re supposed to be all about redemption, forgiveness, and do-overs. We’ve discovered that many give lip-service to those values, but not all are willing to do the hard work of living them out in real-life relationships.

It takes two to come to understanding and reconciliation. It takes two to truly listen to each other with compassionate curiosity. So it’s deeply disappointing when you feel like you’re doing your part, but not getting the response you envisioned.

This is when we need to do the further hard work of opening our hands and praying: “Lord, if I’ve missed anything that is mine to own, please show me. If I’ve done what’s mine, help me to forgive and let go.”

What about you? What has your experience been with criticism, conflict, and crucial conversations?

You Do You

A few weeks ago a friend asked me to be on a panel of women peace-makers at a conference for peacemakers. These are courageous women who are all in. They are PEACE-MAKERS.

I’m more of a peace-wanter.

My exact text response was “Are you freaking KIDDING me??!” I felt I was totally unqualified to be on the platform with women who are on the front lines in Israel, Palestine, Fergusson…

And I was, but they wanted me anyway and the reason I eventually said “yes” was because I think I’m like many of you who need a little encouragement that we all have a part to play.

We’re the “small things” people , the cheerleaders and the story-tellers and that’s ok, at least for a start.

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When I got home, I was listening to a podcast message by Clay Scroggins and heard a phrase that was new to me. It’s really stuck in regard to my role in WORLD PEACE. Continue reading

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