Stay Curious

CuriousStay

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.

*Image: ShirtSaying.net

Leading People by Building Trust

BuiltTrust

I’ve worked for bullies that demanded trust. I’ve worked for weaklings that demanded trust. I’ve worked for very few that legitimately worked to build my trust in them. Trust, like loyalty, is a two way street that oftentimes people are driving three cars down the wrong lane, headed in the entirely wrong direction.

As a leader, one has to think of trust as something built not won in the lottery. It’s done in so many different ways.

Show people that you care about them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Is that saying cliche? Yes. Is that saying correct? Yes.

Take an interest in people beyond where you currently know them. Don’t intrude into somebodies private lives, but it’s all right to ask about their kids, or their kids baseball teams. Go ahead and ask!

Let people know that you’re interested in their success and future. It so often goes without saying, but if we’re leading other people we have to be that person in their life that genuinely cares if they succeed.

When mistakes are made, don’t respond in anger. Instead, calmly explain the situation and why their actions are troublesome. When people know you aren’t going to make them walk the plank, they’re much more likely to listen to you describe what you expect in the future.

When people know that you have their best interests at heart, they’re going to trust you.

Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Lessons on Forgiveness

forgiveness

My husband happened to be sitting on the porch, and overheard the conversation around the corner of the house between my daughter and three of her neighborhood friends.

“Sorry Lauryn,” one said. “My mom said only two friends could come inside my house….so you can’t come.”

So off the three others went, to play inside a neighbor’s house, while my daughter was left sitting alone. Left behind.  Ouch.    

Her feelings were understandably hurt.

Oh how I pray for wisdom in times like this.  

After choking back my first response of, “Just don’t play with those girls anymore.  You have plenty of other friends”, I heard myself talking about forgiveness and second chances instead.  It’s a familiar refrain, “Love your enemies. Do good to them.”

I want her to forgive, yes.  But more than that, I pray she will know the  reason  Christ-followers are able love our enemies, and do  good to those who are not good to us. I want the truths that are the  foundation for our forgiveness of others to take deep, deep root in her heart.  We can forgive… because we really are okay.  We’re okay, regardless of what others may do or say. We can be hurt, but then  we give that hurt to Jesus. He takes our burden. He reminds us that we  can forgive, because we have been forgiven so much. His love, his  acceptance – it fills us, and it is ENOUGH.

Words and wounds hurt us.  But they don’t leave us undone, because we are safe and secure  and loved in Jesus.

We can offer second and third and fourth chances to people. If they  respond like we hope they will – with returned love and kindness – it’s so, so good. But if they fail us  again or hurt us again, it’s okay, because our feelings and attitude  and self-worth don’t change and shift and move based on how others  treat us. We are consistent and strong and joyful and peaceful because of who God  is in our lives, and how he reveals his unchanging, never-shifting, never-failing love.

She’s seven years old.

There are more hurt feelings to come, I’m well  aware.  The wounds get deeper the older she gets. Her heart will be broken by a boy…she’ll feel infuriated with her parents…she’ll endure nearly crushing best-friend betrayals. We all go through it. But I pray that she will learn  sooner rather than later that Jesus really is her safe place. That she  would hide in the cleft of the Rock, knowing that although the  forgiveness and grace he asks us to extend is difficult at times, that  he always provides the power to do so.

May I know the same.

Parenting in Grace

GraceParenting

Fathers should create an atmosphere which will make obedience an easy and natural matter, namely, the atmosphere of love and confidence.  

-William Hendriksen

Rules tell us how to obey the one we love, but it’s grace that tells us how to please them. It’s my natural tendency to use Grace as a last resort in my parenting style, instead of leading with it. Grace doesn’t mean letting your kids get away with everything.  I love this example I read recently:

Imagine that on the first day of a new job your trainer gave you only negative instructions. Don t ever be late to work, interrupt the boss during his meetings, use the phone for personal calls You would eventually wonder, What  AM  I supposed to be doing? How do I do my job? We often lead children to the same  exasperation.

Gracious parenting especially applies to correction. Be sure that your children know that you love them  as they are, not as you would like them to be. As a good rule of thumb, ask yourself, What kind of correction is most helpful for  me?

(Source:  http://www.ligonier.org/blog/4-goals-pursue-parenting/)

Here are 4 ways Grace should come across in how I parent my children:

  • Tone of my voice when giving correction. Do I yell, raise my voice, or communicate in a demonstrative ways?
  • The feeling I leave my kids with after I’ve corrected their mistake. Do they feel destroyed? Are they left with any hope for being better next time?
  • The next conversation I have, after the correction. How quickly can I move on from my own frustration with their mistake? Can I let our day continue in a graceful way?
  • The attitude I display in the minutes and hours after the correction. Do I find myself holding a grudge the next day? Am I quick to keep them from committing the same mistake again, without giving them a chance to learn?

 

Spot the Mistake

Mistake

My kids live in a mistake filled world, and if I’m not careful they could drown in enough mistakes that they can’t tell right from wrong over time. As their parent, it becomes my mission then to adjust the error in a biology teachers opinion about when life begins, correct the low expectations of what their friend says are good qualities in a girlfriend, and showing grace to a neighbor confused about what makes them valuable.

When the people in their schools and the kids in our neighborhood begin to interpret life in ways that are not God-centered, I then have to spot the mistake and correct them. This isn’t about standing on soapboxes and shouting the truth to a random passersby. This isn’t an advocacy for more Christian schools or more church services.

This is me suggesting that we could engage our world in a way that helps our kids begin to define the mistakes all around them, because eventually they’re going to have to do this on their own. The key lays in getting your kids to open up and tell you much of what’s happening in their own lives.

Here are some things we’ve done in our home to try and “Spot the Mistakes

  • Find the times to talk. There are times where we can get our kids to share about school, and neighborhood things. There are also times that don’t work. Find what they are for your kids and then bounce down to this next tip…
  • Ask some questions. Real live questions like: “What were you talking about with them?” I’d suggest you don’t wait til you have teenagers before trying this method. It has to be a question that you sincerely care about the answer, and not an answer you’ll use to later punish them.
  • Don’t act shocked. Your kids will say some things that are crazy. I’m talking crazy on both sides of right and wrong. If you learn to stay calm and listen, I guarantee you that you will eventually have the opportunity to speak truth towards something less than crazy.
  • Know your stuff. Don’t just get good at finding the mistakes, get good as bringing wisdom when it’s needed. Becoming wise, begins with knowing Christ and the ways of the wise. Could I make a parenting suggestion? Read Proverbs. Read it every day. Read it with your kids. Make wisdom like a brother and sister

1 Timothy 1:5-11 // The whole point of what we re urging is simply  love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven t the remotest idea of what they re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

It s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It s obvious, isn t it, that the law code isn t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I ve been put in charge of by this great God.