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I’ve had some limited experience meeting with newlyweds over the years. You know these couples, right? They love their soon-to-be husband or wife, and as I begin to sit down and talk with them I discover that their expectations of marriage are wildly different for marriage. He thinks that it’s going to be great to start a family soon, and she is excited to finish her 2nd graduate degree before maybe having kids. As the counselor, it’s my goal to help them set realistic and right expectations for each other. As the married man, it just seems to obvious.
Yet as a father, I’m more than guilty of holding inappropriate expectations for my own kids every day. I expect math to be easy for them, because it was easy for me. I expect them to love baseball, but they just want to wear the hats and drink Capri suns afterwards. When they’re young, it starts so innocently. Then they become teenagers one day, and I then hold the potential for my bad expectations of them to keep them from what they could become. I expect greatness to look like one thing, and I discover later on that greatness was there all along.
If your children regularly fail to measure up to your standards, you might be expecting too much.
Then there is the nasty flip side of expectations. Some parents expect almost nothing from their kids. In such settings, children can lose energy or passion because they are never helped to “reach forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil 3:13). In other homes too much is expected. Experience teaches that unreasonable expectations are the ideal breeding ground for discouragement.
As parents let us be guilty of encouragement, and let us be convicted when our expectations get in the way of who these wonderful children are becoming each day.
Let us look at the singular most valuable voice in the life of your child. As a parent, you have the greatest potential to influence your child’s heart and life. You are the loudest of all voices, and you are the best person to show compassion, forgiveness, and affirmation to them. Even when your children begin to age and seek out other voices, your voice should and will always stay the one they most need to hear.
It’s important to find valuable voices all around your children, and begin to choose who many of those voices are. It’s important to leverage what they hear from others to help them as they mature, and it’s important that you are picky with whom you let influence your children. But all of that is diminished if your voice isn’t the one speaking grace and truth in equal measure to them.
You are the champion of all voices, and as you seek God’s will for how to lead your family I’m certain that you will be given opportunities to say what needs to be said when it most needs to be heard.
I believe that you are equipped to be the voice of forgiveness for your children when they need forgiveness the most, because who else knows them like their parent?
I believe that you hold the possibility to direct your children in the way of wisdom when they need wisdom the most, because who else knows them like their parent?
I believe that you are the voice of love your children need to hear more anyone else, because who else knows them like their parent?
Begin to value the voices all around your child’s life, but seeing your own voice as the most valuable of all. When the full weight of that sets on us as parents, it draws us to seek wisdom for ourselves as we continue on the journey of being a parent, and what a great journey this will be!
I’m always observing people around me, and keep myself constantly on the lookout for great leaders. I see some at the soccer fields, a few at my kids schools, and even more at my church. As a natural introvert, I tend to enjoy quietly watching how other people do things, instead of inserting myself into conversations where I could learn just by listening. Here are some of my recent discoveries:
Great leaders work hard to keep themselves intellectually curious and committed to learning. They ask questions, constantly; which is not the same as questioning constantly. They see themselves as learners, and see each day as an opportunity to learn something new.
Great leaders are inquisitive and always looking for new ideas, insights and information. They don’t see themselves as “old”, but they are always on the search for “what’s next” that may exist in their world. They are willing to seek out information in the most unconventional of ways, because ultimately it’s about finding a new way of doing an old thing that they are after.
Great leaders are curious people. They are interested in the things around them, and it’s the things around them that help to shape what makes them great. From their personal backgrounds, to past experiences they are by the very definition interesting people.
In moments of self-reflection, I could tell you how I don’t do nearly enough of these things. My goal isn’t necessarily to be a great leader, but setting a goal of simply being curious of my surroundings is where I start.