Friday, October 24, 2014

Reflecting On Our Goals For Child Rearing Part 2

Photo credit: freeimages.com
In Part 1 of Reflecting On Our Goals For Child Rearing, I covered the areas of spirituality, domestic living, and vocation. In this post, I will continue with health and social living.

Health

  • That they would choose to eat healthy foods most of the time and only indulge occasionally
  • That they would make exercise a daily part of their lives
  • That they would remain pure before marriage
  • That they would get adequate rest
  • That they would choose not to live dangerously
  • That they would learn to listen and obey their God-given physical signals for hunger, fullness, thirst, stress, and need for rest
Socially
  • That they would not become peer dependent at any time in their lives
  • That they would choose to please God in their social lives rather than according to their own pleasure or of the world
  • That their friends would be a good and godly influence for their good
  • That they would find the company of the world distasteful
  • That they would prefer the company of their family most of the time
  • That they would be polite, courteous, and observe proper etiquette at home and in social settings
Unlike some of the points in Part 1, I can't argue with these. And, thankfully, I believe most of them have been fruitful in our grown children's lives.

Thoughts?

Reflecting On Our Goals For Child Rearing Part 1

Photo credit: freeimages.com
I am downsizing the household now that the children are all grown and gone. As I sifted through the files in my cabinet, I came across this handwritten Goals For Child Rearing. At some point in 1997, I took the time to think seriously about what Les' and my goals were for rearing our children.

You will notice some of it clearly reflects the influence of the writers in the Vision Forum genre. At that time, our children were 10, 9, 7, and 4. Much of what we embraced regarding grown children was based more on fear than on the Scriptures and personal experience. We have since come away from much of that as a result of looking honestly at what the Bible teaches and of living it out in our own family as the children grew, matured, and launched out from our home.

I have written my responses in red after each point which has changed regarding these goals as the years progressed and we grew in knowledge and wisdom. I would love to hear your thoughts on these goals and the changes we made.

Goals For Child Rearing
(What we hope and expect our children will do/be when they are grown as a result of our parenting and educating.)

Spiritually

  • That they would seek after God and know Him as their personal God, not just their parents' God.
  • Be able to discern good from evil and test all things by the Word of God.
  • Be students of the Scriptures, including Bible memory and using the Scriptures apologetically.
  • That they would be conscious of the first and second commandments in application to their daily lives, especially once they know Christ.
  • Proper perspective of the role of the church in God's kingdom.
  • That they would not waste their minds on vain things (television, senseless books, video games, etc.)
  • That they would be prepared for persecution.
  • That we would help them discern their spiritual gifts and corresponding place of service in the church
  • At least one missions trip in their lifetime (Hasn't happened yet with any of them; and though it would be nice, it is not necessarily a requirement.)
Domestically
  • That they would be prepared for domestic life whether married or single, parents or childless. They should clearly understand the roles of family members and their own responsibilities.
  • They will remain under their father's authority until we feel they are mature enough to wed or move on. If daughters remain unmarried, they may and should remain at home under their father's authority. (We have come WAY far away from this one. Doesn't it sound....domineering? :/ I am almost ashamed to hear myself say these things. Who did we think we were lording it over God's inheritance like that (1 Peter 5:3)? Our children don't belong to us. Once they are grown, they must discern from God for themselves what they will do and where they will live. However, our kids have always known they are welcome to live with Dad and me if they want to or need to. We are still a family and will help one another as the needs arise. But, if they are grown, they will NOT be under our authority. They will cooperate with our house rules, not because we are their parents but out of common respect.)
  • We choose courtship and betrothal methods for their marrying process. (Les and I still feel courtship is the best method for finding a mate with parents acting as counselors in the process. However, dating with parental counsel looks a whole lot like courtship anyway. As for betrothal, we believe it is an unnecessary constraint. Engagement is good enough.)
  • That our children will be willing workers, including taking responsibility for their own domestic assignments and willing to take up the slack as needed.  
  • Financially responsible.
  • Take personal responsibility willingly and with a good and proper attitude.
Vocation/Education
  • That they would have a solid foundation of basic academics such as reading, writing, arithmetic (primary school) and a well-rounded knowledge of the basic subjects of science, social studies, history, art, music, and philosophy apologetically (secondary school).
  • That we and they would pray, seek, and discern God's will for their life's occupation.
  • After discerning the Lord's direction, begin in junior or senior high to fine tune their studies for that direction.
  • They will begin working as helpers/apprentices at an early age as soon as they have proven their faithfulness at home first.
  • Will not be allowed to work with lost or worldly people until evidence is seen of a personal conversion and a grounded faith (not superficial).
  • Seek avenues of home education as long and as far as possible. (Again, this is fear speaking. I found out later that my husband actually did not agree with me on this one. There is no reason to be afraid of our children attending college or university if they feel so led. By that time, they are usually adults and should not be shamed into home education beyond that point.)
  • That they would understand the biblical relationship between employer and employee.
  • That making money would not be their main goal in life, but that they would learn to depend on God for their needs and please Him in their work.
  • Learn one foreign language as a family (Spanish?) (Well, looks like this one ain't gonna happen. lol)
So, what do you think? Were we nuts? Are we still nuts but in a different way? Feel free to chime in.

Part 2 is in the next post.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Redefining Leadership: Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders - Book Review

When choosing a book to review, I was caught by the title Redefining Leadership: Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders. I am finding that leadership is one subject which stirs up quite a bit of debate these days, especially in the circles where it is most valued. Yet, it is the wrong type of leadership which has given it such a bad name. We tend to equate leadership with people who are driven and who get things done, often while lashing a whip on the backs of those below them in rank. Yet, Joe Stowell, as I have often heard the author referred as, has a view based on biblical truth which sets those notions on their heads.

I have known of the author, Dr. Joseph Stowell, for many years. He became the president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago not long before I began listening to a Moody radio station in our area when our children were small. Living on a farm in the middle of nowhere, without a phone or a car, and having a husband who commuted an hour one way, I had little interaction on a daily basis with adults for the four and a half years we lived there. But, I had the radio, Christian radio, and I had it on all day long.

What I remember about the author is that he always seemed to be on level with everyone involved in the ministry at Moody and interacted with other ministers, guests, radio personalities, students, and listeners all with the same respect. I have to be honest here: I sometimes wondered if he was really cut out for the position he held there. But, after reading this book, I understand that he was leading from a position of service. In fact, I have come away with a whole different view of this man. I love his heart and am excited to commend his book to you.

My ideas of leadership, especially in the Church, were formed from years of being under men who wore power suits and knew how to use them, usually to their own advantage. It was a numbers game to many of my pastors and their peers. And we were the ones they had to get motivated to move the Gospel product, often door-to-door like a Kirby sweeper. Building a church was the main focus of these church leaders, but seldom were their people built up in the faith.

This is where Joseph Stowell wants to make a difference, by redefining leadership both in priorities and identity. From the very first chapter, Dr. Stowell sets the record straight about the type of leadership which is truly successful in the Kingdom of God. It's not the outcome-driven leaders I was brought up under but what he refers to as the character-driven leaders who make all the difference. Listen to his definition of a character-driven leader:

There are Character-Driven Leaders, whose exemplary lives influence and empower those within the sphere of their authority to achieve great outcomes personally, spiritually, communally, and organizationally. The breadth and depth of their positive influence distinguishes them as maximum leaders. The power behind their leadership is leveraged by their moral authority that comes from the credibility of their lives. And, among other things, character-driven leaders use their organization to build stellar people, who in turn build a thriving culture that produces maximum corporate outcome to the fame and glory of God.[1]
Isn't that beautiful? So inspiring! It's like a breath of fresh air in the stifled room of get-ahead Christianity. I believe this definition is spot-on as it includes the building up of the saints, making a social cultural difference, and bringing glory to God, all without stripping away what the Bible teaches about authority in the church context.

In contrast, he also includes the description of those who take advantage of positional authority:
Leaders who rely on their positional authority tend to be highly pragmatic. Character demands that we live and lead with integrity, but when character is not the driving force, it's hard to resist temptations to cheat around the edges. Lack of transparency, dishonesty, and violation of basic ethics when it serves them well are all a part of the positional leader's arsenal.

Positional leaders value image as a tool to leverage their power. They flaunt the title on their business card, the special parking space, and the nice office and use the power to reward or punish those who serve them. Positional leaders find no value in developing the character needed to command genuine respect and loyalty. Instead, they earn loyalty by promoting and paying their followers well. They motivate them with praise or manipulate them with anger and the threat of withholding approval. They make retaliation a public spectacle so that others learn to stay in line. Lacking a moral compass to guide them, they are free to do whatever is necessary to achieve the desired result. Often organizational insecurity and fear mark the environment of enterprises run by positional authority.
[2]
This makes me shutter to my very core when I think how this describes some in leadership (in the home school movement in particular) who have recently left trails of destruction in the wakes of their falls. Perhaps if there had been more accurate instruction on what the Bible really teaches about authority, such as is found in Redefining Leadership, there would not have been so many following what these leaders said the Bible taught about authority.

However, it is also a huge mistake to throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to leadership authority. Dr. Stowell clarifies this when he says, "...Positional authority is still an important form of authority, yet one that must be exercised with wisdom." He then goes on to describe how Christ who maintained His positional authority as the Son of God never used it to leverage power for His own benefit but rather to serve those under Him and to advance His Father's kingdom.[3] It is this type of servant leadership which Dr. Stowell encourages those in authority to practice, to lead by being a servant.

And, yet, the things taught in Redefining Leadership are not only helpful for pastors and corporate leaders, but also for fathers and mothers who have perhaps gotten the wrong idea of their purpose in parenting. What a difference it would make in every family if parents took their positions before God as servant leaders in their homes. I believe this is the missing element in most teaching on parenting, and it is where many authoritarian parents go terribly wrong.

Therefore, I would encourage not only reading Redefining Leadership for yourself, but would also suggest giving it as a gift to new parents as well as those going into ministry or being promoted in their company. There is so much here for all of us to learn.

[1] Joseph M. Stowell, Redefining Leadership: Character-Driven Habits of Effective Leaders (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2014), 24.
[2] Ibid., 75.
[3] Ibid., 76, 77.