The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

INTEGRITY: Staying centered

Eli was a priest but he had lost his center. His two sons Hophni and Phineas were also priests; but they were self-centered and evil. Their focus was themselves. God sent a prophet to warn them; they didn’t listen. It was during this time that the young boy Samuel heard God call him for the first time. God gave Samuel this message:
“At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family--from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them.”
The end result was a disaster; Eli’s sons died on the same day and the ark of God was lost to the enemy. When Eli heard the news, he also died. No member of Eli’s family ever became a priest again.

Being off-center can have dreadful results. As parents it is easy to find ourselves off-center. Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The main thing, the center of our homes is Jesus Christ. As parents, our aim is to please Him. To lose that focus is to be off-center.

Our society pushes us to have a different center. The buzz word is “child-centered.” Everything revolves around the children. Parents run to and fro to meet the “needs” of the children. We move mountains to make sure that nothing damages their fragile self-esteems (another buzz word). We ask them what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. We spend our energies frantically trying to make the little children happy. Instead we make them into spoiled brats who have an unrealistic view of the world; they believe that the world revolves around them. And they are not happy. Neither are we. If we take this path, we are worshipping our children instead of Jesus Christ. Child-centered is off-centered.

Human nature pulls us in another direction, allowing us to be self-centered. We believe that we deserve time for ourselves. Children are a bother, and we push them aside so that we can do the important things like work, play tennis, and socialize. We include the kids only when it serves our image. We worship ourselves. The end result is often divorce. Then we need the kids to soothe our damaged egos, stealing their childhoods from them even as we continue our own. Self-centered parenting is off-centered parenting.

It is God’s intent that our homes center on Him.
We acknowledge that we need Him—we pray.
We recognize that He knows more than we do—we read His word.
We accept our responsibility as parents—we lead our children.
We understand that each of us bears His image—we respect one another.
We practice being like God—we serve one another.

When we focus our home on Jesus Christ, we grow, we learn, we laugh, we live—together.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LONGRANGE VIEW: When trouble comes . . .

Mark 4:17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Recently, some close friends were attacked in their own apartment. They were young men, college students who had dared to live outside themselves, outside their comfort zone. Over the course of a couple of years, they had established relationships with younger guys in their apartments and had begun to help them with school work. Every Tuesday and Thursday had become tutoring days. Schoolwork, reading and math, came first; then they would play games with X-box or computers.
Their involvement in the apartment complex was having an effect. One high school student had accepted Christ and become part of a local church. Another eleven-year-old student had heard God speak to him about his attitude and changed his action because of it.
Then the attack came. In the middle of night, four armed gunmen broke into their apartment, pistol-whipped the two young men who were there, threatened them further, stole their technical equipment, musical instruments, and took one of the cars.
Now they are dealing with all the natural feelings that come after such an event: discouragement, fear, depression, and more. But to their credit, they are asking a question that goes beyond their personal safety: How do we keep reaching these young students without endangering ourselves unnecessarily? They are seeking counsel and prayer from older men as well as the wisdom that comes from God. These young men have caught the fire of classical Christian faith. Is there not a cause greater than ourselves? Is not the call of Jesus worth more than our comfort and safety. These young men have deep roots in Christ. Some of their idealism has been shattered, but the realism of their deep faith is growing.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose.
Jim Elliot
Somewhere along the way, these young men have been called to a faith that overcomes trouble. Their parents are to be commended; they have demonstrated to their children that trouble is part of the journey.
We as parents never want our own children to be endangered or hurt; that would be unnatural. On the other hand, if we never let our children deal with their own problems, work out their own relationships, and face their own fears, we handicap them. Hurt, rejection, pain are part of life; we all experience them. Danger is lurking around the corner for all of us. If we do not realize that, we are naïve. As parents, we must ask ourselves how we can prepare our children for what will certainly come at some point in their lives. We must see far enough ahead to know that our children will face difficulty and danger without us. Are we getting them ready for that? Are we helping them to grow deep roots in Christ? Are we sowing an eternal hope that will carry them beyond temporary trouble?
Jesus said,
“In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
As parents, let’s equip our children to be overcomers so that they will not fall away when trouble comes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LONG-RANGE VISION: Leading your teens

I recently had the opportunity to meet with a group of teachers from Central America. We were discussing their high school students and tried to answer this question: Are teenagers children or adults? Lively discussion back and forth produced no real conclusion. Several felt strongly on each side of the issue.

Then we changed the question: If we asked the teens the same thing—Are you adults or children—what would they answer. Amazingly, we found solidarity in that everyone thought the teens would say that they are adults. This is at the core of many of our difficulties with our teens. We treat them like kids but we expect them to act like adults. They feel like adults but they often still act like kids.

So how do we begin to bring the two worlds together? How do we sow the seeds of maturity into them when they are teens? How can we lead them in such a way that they grow up into adults who accept responsibility for themselves and for others?

Michael Abrashoff was captain of the naval ship USS Benfold. He utilized four elements with his young sailors that fostered cooperation and maturity. He records them in his book on leadership called It’s Your Ship. He implemented these four actions on a ship made up mostly of young sailors, many who were still in their teens. The following list is his but the comments are mine.

1) Respect—Often with our teens we still hover over them like they are little kids. We ignore their feelings and dismiss their ideas. Our first necessary change must be a change of posture. Instead of taking them head-on, let’s learn to stand beside them and look at life together. That’s how we look at problems with other adults; let’s take that posture with our teens. Don’t give away your authority, just change posture. One way that he demonstrated this was by encouraging his officers to eat with the men instead of eating separately. Think of one practical way that you can break down the dividing wall between us and our teens. A planned meal together may be a good start.

2) Impact—Give them an opportunity to make an impact. The powerful effect of making a real difference in the family, community, or world is almost addictive. We all like it; we all want it. Find ways to involve your family and especially your teens in projects that make a difference for real people. If you can do it together, the benefit is magnified. Abrashoff communicated to his sailors that the ship belonged to them; he gave them ownership. He allowed them to make decisions as long as they did not cost more money or endanger lives. Communication improved, performance improved, and relationships improved.

3) Listen aggressively—Teens often have hare-brained ideas that we cast off as soon we hear them. Instead of demonstrating our own wisdom, let’s learn to help them develop theirs. Listen and ask questions that aim at getting to the kernel of their ideas. We might get inspired. Abrashoff met with each man on his ship. He learned their names and the names of their wives. He kept a file on their families and showed personal interest in their endeavors. He asked each man how to improve the operations of the ship. He followed up with changes.

4) Reward with responsibility—Nothing communicates confidence to a teen more than saying, “You have done well enough to be trusted more.” When they have done well, acknowledge it by increased trust. This can be a broadening of their personal boundaries or perhaps another responsibility to take charge of. As the men on Abrashoff’s ship became experts in their responsibilities, he gave them opportunities to learn other positions. Like a football coach, he developed depth at each position. This kept his sailors challenged and focused their energies in a positive direction. In two years, his ship outperformed every other ship in the navy.

We parent children. We lead adults.

I am proposing to you as parents that you change your mindset regarding your teens from one of parenting to one of leading. When dealing with teens, leadership principles might be more appropriate than parenting ideas. The difference could be dramatic.