In our house, we have slowly begun to raise Alabama fans. We do not sit down and educate our daughters about how important it is to root for Alabama, but they pick it up. They see us watch the football games, see me cheer when one team does something I like, and hear me groan when the other team does something I do not like. "Which team are we cheering for," my daughter will ask, "the red one or the orange one?" She is learning to love what I love not because I am sitting down trying to teach her to love a thing, she naturally tends to gravitate toward areas of my life that occupy my time.
What we want to teach our children about life is not something they learn, what we actually practice in life is what teaches our children whether we want to or not. This was my first learning experience: If what you do teaches your children, what are you teaching them about God, about the Bible, about a relationship with God?
I really enjoy the tablet PC I received for my birthday last month. The functionality it has for work, reading books, surfing the web, sending and receiving emails, and even the games can really occupy a good bit of time. However, I recently heard a message about how what we do teaches our children, and my mind went to the times when I was playing a game on my tablet PC and how quickly my daughters came to me, peering over my shoulder, watching me . . . and learning.
"This is what I love, this is what is important to me" is the message I was communicating. Whether I like it or not, that message was coming in loud and clear to them. The good thing is, I don't have to communicate that message. I can change that message, simply by changing what they see.
Earlier this week I sat down and brought up a Bible verse on the tablet, and without me calling for them my daughters had quickly settled next to me, watching me, and began asking me what I was doing. I had picked Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." I wanted to teach them something about how they talk to each other as sisters, and in an effort to teach them through example, they taught me.
"Right now I would like for you to think of something nice to say." My oldest thought for a moment and said, "I like you because you're cute." To which my youngest replied, "I don't like to be cute," with a small frown. I looked at my oldest, "You just said something kind and nice, but she didn't hear it that way. Like the verse, we need to know to answer every person we meet, which means we need to know how to talk to people so they will understand what we mean. Can you think of another way to say what you mean so she will understand and like what you said?"
After a few moments of back and forth communications between my two daughters, both having found ways to speak kindly to each other, I turned to my youngest and asked, "So, what did she say to you that was kind?" The response came, "Uh, I don't remember." I told the oldest to repeat what she had said, and began to think about the two lessons I had just learned.
Sometimes we speak to our wives, our children, and other people in ways we believe are good and kind, but they don't always hear it that way. When they take offense, the tendency is to get defensive instead of modifying our speech. As well, even when a good message does get across to someone, it is usually quickly forgotten. So, we should all learn to speak more effectively at speaking kind words, and then learn to repeat that message as often as possible.
This was my second learning experience: How would you respond to someone who had learned to speak kindly to you in an effective way, and repeatedly did so over and over again affirming and reaffirming good things about you?
I had just arrived home from a business trip and pulled up into the driveway. My wife was waiting in the carport outside, when just as I opened my car door my oldest daughter came running . . . with fear on her face. "Mom! Come quick!" My wife went inside and I just let her go handle it as I grabbed my stuff from the car and headed into the house. I could hear some whimpering from the back of the house, and so I followed the sounds.
In the bathroom my wife was pressing a wet wash cloth on the mouth of my youngest daughter while the oldest just stood there looking pale and worried. Whatever had happened, blood was definitely involved, and the oldest was obviously feeling guilty and responsible. Shaking off the exhaustion from hours of travel, I asked calmly, "What happened?"
What ensued was an animated and worried explanation by my oldest daughter of how she accidentally slammed the door to the bathroom into the face of her younger sister who was busy being nosey while my oldest was trying to get some privacy. "Tell her you're sorry." My oldest apologized. "Guess you will leave her alone when she needs to use the bathroom from now on won't you?" My youngest nodded.
I hugged my oldest, telling her that everything will be fine, and that she was not in trouble. I believed her when she told her story, not so much because she is not capable of lying, but that she has a home-grown fear of the consequences of lying that far outweigh any fear of discipline for whatever she has done. I then went to my youngest, picked her up, and just hugged her, too.
Within 30 minutes, it was as if the incident had never happened, and life restarted in our house with our little family. Thing is, such small emergencies are much bigger than most men realize. If I had over-reacted, I very well could have wounded the spirit of my oldest. Ignore it completely, and the youngest would be left to wonder if she mattered at all. I'm not saying I handled the situation perfectly, or even the best way possible, but I handled it keeping both of my daughters in mind.
This was not a medical emergency, it was an emergency of priorities. Your children need to know that they matter to you. No matter how big or small the incident, when things go wrong in their lives they want to know you care enough to take some time out for them. If my children had been boys, I might have handled it differently, but with a household full of females, a slap on the back and a "shake it off" simply would not be good enough here.
Whether it is a broken toy, some hurt feelings, a skinned knee, or a busted lip, your kids will come to you with all sorts of emergencies. Many of them will not require more than a few minutes of your attention, but those moments are so very important.
I think that a lot of kids who grow up starved for attention did not come to that point all at once. Rather, it was the missed moments of small emergencies that accumulated over time, and eventually these kids learn that only the most egregious actions will ever warrant attention, and so they go there.
To keep from having those really big emergencies that are self-inflicted by your children, take advantage of the small emergencies to give them attention and show you really care. What small emergencies, what opportunities to show your children you care are passing you by?
I think everyone pretty much understands "The Butterfly Effect". There was even a movie made about it. In short though, small actions and decisions, whimsical afterthoughts even, a glance in one direction instead of another, a spontaneous decision to do something you normally would not do, can all have repercussions far beyond what we may see or intend. Some for good, and others not so good.
As I thought about this, I stopped to wonder how much of our lives does God really care about. You may have heard it said that God does not really care who wins football games, what leg you choose to puts your pants on first in the morning, or whether you choose to listen to the radio instead of roll down the window on the way to work. However, and follow me here, are we not all spiritual beings?
We say we understand that there is a spiritual battle that wages around us, yet most Christians I would guess live 99% of their lives without even thinking about the spiritual implications of their every day lives. What's more, the few moments Christians do think about their spiritual lives are spent in more of a dis-associative moment of reflection or moment of silent thought in prayer that loses it's bearing on the "real world" the very moment they get on with their day.
We are made of spiritual material, spoken into existence by a spiritual God from a spiritual realm. Hebrews 11:3 "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." The physical world around us, and even our physical bodies are governed by rules created by that spiritual realm - rules which can be broken by regular people just like you and me as evidenced by Peter walking on water, and other miracles performed by men in the Bible. How is this possible? Because we are spiritual beings! Decisions and actions in the spiritual realm have effects which are felt in the physical realm we are more familiar with.
What these things all have in common is a genuine faith in that spiritual realm. All it took was tapping into the spiritual power God has placed in each of us, as God lives in us, through faith. Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Go back to the Old Testament and study up on the directions God gave for the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the physical rules God gave the people to help govern their spiritual lives, and even the directions for making the clothes of the priests. Read in the New Testament about how not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, and that even the number of hairs on your head are numbered. Now, try to tell me God is not aware of the smallest details in our lives, and if aware, that He does not care.
What if . . . every decision we make in life has spiritual implications much like the butterfly effect in the physical world? What if . . . the spiritual battle that ceaselessly rages around us is also subtly influencing us in the small decisions we make each and every moment of every day?
Would it not be more important then to seek guidance and wisdom daily? To be in touch with God constantly? 1Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing." Acts 17:11 "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
We check email every day, catch up on news every day, make and/or receiver phone calls every day, yet most of us cannot be bothered to make contact with God through prayer and Bible study every day. The result, we live a life 99% focused on the world around us, and miss the 99% of the spiritual battle being waged around us.
Ignorant of the dangers we face, we walk through the minefield of our everyday spiritual battlefields, taking wounds we do not understand nor see, and wounding others in ways we do not perceive. The effect is that the spiritual casualty rate in our churches, homes, and marriages just continues to skyrocket ever upwards, and everyone is blindly trying to figure out why, looking for physical responses to a spiritual cause.
In light of this, how much more important is it for us as men and leaders of our homes to make spiritually informed, wise, and correct decisions? How will the decisions you make impact the people around you spiritually, with effects in this physical world?
Reposted from www.MenRising.com