Trophy Child: Saving Parents from Performance (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2012)
The way you love a kid can dramatically affect his or her future. Love over time creates worth, and any parent would tell you the most common parenting mistakes are easily overcome by loving our children over the long haul. In the book Playing for Keeps , the authors make this statement:
Most research suggests that when it comes to love, the younger the recipient, the more powerful the impact.
This can create quite the urgency in the heart of an elementary small group leader. Think about it. When we are only seeing these kids for a handful of hours a year, how can we demonstrate a love that makes a sincere impact?
- Read the rest of my contribution to the Lead Small blog at: http://leadsmall.org/elementary/the-time-is-now/
“Having success for a year or two, that’s called being hot. Being in demand. Excellence is being able to perform at a high level for a long period of time.”
— Jay Z, music artist and entrepreneur
I know a number of people who have experienced overnight success with a product or startup, but as parents the idea of “overnight success” should be dismissed immediately. If you believe for even a moment that one fantastic conversation with your child will set the course for the rest of their lives, then you are delusional. Excellence is something that comes over a long period of time.
The good news is that because it’s a long time coming, there is time to bring correction to my own parenting mistakes. My excellence isn’t measured in hours and days or even weeks. It is instead measured over years and decades. I think I can tackle this decade thing, it’s the hourly thing I’m struggling with.
Love over time, time over time, words over time, hugs over time, attention over time, dinners over time, car rides over time, ice cream after school…over time. Its the distance we travel that creates the greatest impression on our children.
So make it a point to pursue excellence, not quick fixes. Excellence is who you are…over time.
I ve heard it said that when it comes to parenting, the days are long, but the years are short. It s true, isn't it? Eighteen years feel like such a long time, and then suddenly we have a 9-year-old that is ½ way finished with his time in our home! If you have young children, then know that it s a whirlwind coming to get you and those babies will be up and around in no time. If you are the parent of teenagers, then I m sure it s already hit you full in the face.
In the grand scheme of your child s life, the quantity of time they spend in your home is a drop in the bucket. However, the quality of that time they have is entirely up to you. Parenting intentionally means that we recognize the shortness of what we have to work with, while also acknowledging the seriousness of what we have to carry out in that short amount of time.
Could I challenge you to paint a picture of what you'd want that 18-year-old birthday party to look like? Take a moment to imagine a huge send off party for your daughter or son. Imagine that you gathered together everyone that has ever influenced your child in a positive way. Imagine the room is full of all the voices they ve heard over the year s family, friends, small group leaders, baseball coaches, gymnastics instructors, schoolteachers, and neighborhood buddies. They are all gathered together to celebrate the future of your son or daughter, and they ve all had a role in helping to make them who they are.
Got the picture in your mind's eye? Now ponder these questions:Are any of these people in their lives now?Who is missing right now from their life that you would want at this celebration? Are there some people at the party that you d rather not be there?
To really value the voices our children have in their lives, we have to begin to imagine the end of their time with us. Every word your child hears from the influences in their life, are already planning this send off party; whether you know it or not.
Whether you know it or not, you ve been granted the role of influencing these young children in your home. God has given you the responsibility of managing their time in your home, and while they eventually will make their own decisions and choose their own path in life, it s your influence now that helps make those decisions and paths more clear for them.
After you ve looked for the voices and people in your child s life, and invested the time to add and subtract as necessary, then you are at a place to really flex your parental muscles. It s time to show off how powerful you can really be, and begin the heavy lifting of parenting. The good news is that you don t have to be all-powerful; you just have to learn the schematics of leverage.
There is great power in leverage. For example, I’m not a large person, which has its advantages. I’m not usually asked to help people move, and rarely have I had to move a refrigerator up a flight of stairs. It s not that I’m a weakling, because I’ve moved my share of large items in my life. The real key to moving big things is leverage. A 100-pound teenager can move a fridge much faster using a dolly with big rubber wheels than a 300-pound grown man can trying to carry it by himself.
The words our kids hear from those around him do indeed have power, but what we choose to do with those words can make them ultimately life changing.
I’ve written a ton about one of the most strategic things we can do as parents, and that s doing some relationship math with our kids. The next step after adding new voices is to leverage the voices they hear for their benefit. I can t follow up on every single conversation my child has with a friend, nor can I filter every word they ever hear from an adult. I can, though, choose and pick when I take the time to leverage what they hear.