Archives For words

Our Angry Friends

Jonathan Cliff  —  February 4, 2014 — Leave a comment

AngryHearts

Answer: Angry people are so much fun. Angry people are exactly the sort of people I love to spend time around. Angry people are great to share a cup of coffee with. Angry people make everything that much brighter. Angry people set a great standard for how I want to live.

Question: What are things nobody ever says?

Unfortunately, while we never aspire to surround ourselves with angry people, we are ensured of being confronted with them from time to time. Whether it’s an overzealous driver, an easily offended mother in your neighborhood, or a frustrated coworker. I’ve worked in churches for years and I’ve talked to my share of angry people. Not because churches are full of angry people, but because churches are full of normal people. Here are some things I’ve learned to help me in my interactions with the angry friends in my life:

I’m very rarely the reason they are angry…even if they tell me I am. There is always another thing behind the thing. Want to test my theory? When was the last time you talked with an angry person that sincerely was angry about a righteous problem? Our angry counterparts are usually frustrated with something meaningless to most people. It doesn’t mean they aren’t sincerely angry, it just means there are always underlying issues.

Everyone seems angrier from a distance. The foolproof method to put out the fire inside an angry email, is to pick up the phone and call them. Take it one step further and go for face-to-face interaction. That simmers down the fire even more. When angry people get your full undivided attention, they usually are willing to listen and calm themselves down quickly.

Angry people want you to respond with anger. This is their way of justifying their own actions. What’s the learning here? Don’t let them win by returning angry words with angry words. Which leads us to the next point.

Angry people need love. Let me be clear, do not attempt to hug an angry person. What I’m advocating here is the love that speaks through your patient words and following up with acts of kindness. They need healing, and being on the receiving end of their anger, makes you the prime candidate to respond in the way most people won’t.

 

LoveOverTime

“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.

 

 

Heavy Words

Jonathan Cliff  —  September 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

HeavyWords

Recently, my middle school son has begun to volunteer at our church in the preschool areas. He has been assigned to the 3-year-old room, and has proven to be a real all-star in that environment. This son of mine, is entering a stage of life where he is looking for affirmation, and needs to feel that he is accepted for who he his. As he has served the 3 year olds at our church, he has also been surrounded by adults that marvel at his heart for the little ones. They've said things to him like, You are so great with these kids, I wish there were more middle schoolers like you! and Have you seen the way these kids look at you? You are their hero just by coming and playing with us!

Those words on their own are powerful, but I have leveraged them in a few distinct ways. First, I knew my son would succeed in that area. I m his father, and I know his strengths. Helping him find a place to serve 3 year olds was better than if I had asked him to go work with 3rd graders. I also set him up for success by choosing an environment that would bring out the best in him, and therefore bring out the words of affirmation in others. Then, I made sure that the he fully understood what those people were telling him. I helped him to see that those friends were sharing what they saw in his life, and they weren't making it up. I reminded him that his mother and I have seen those things in his life, and have told him those same things as well.

It is experiences like this that allow me to say what I ve always said to my son, You are special, unique, and God is going to use you to do great things for the world all around you! and to put those words into the mouths of others. With your child you have the ability to find areas where they can win consistently, and then leverage the situation to say what you ve been saying all along.

Maybe it s an art class at the community center, or working alongside others at a local food bank, or volunteering at your church. Maybe it s allowing them to play a sport that they excel at a little more than the other kids, or spending some time after school with a club that will help draw out some of these other talents they have inside of them.

So much of leveraging the words of others in the lives of our children, has to do with us being intentional as parents. When we leverage the words they hear, we are helping to shape them into the people God wants them to be. However, this doesn't happen by accident. This happens when we listen for the voices, and surround our children with the right voices.

 

leverageinfluence

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.

Math_Couple

What does my child need to hear from others?

In whom could I trust with encouraging my child s natural gifts?

What voice is now missing from my child s life?

Who are the good influences in their life now?

Every child is different and responds to voices in different ways. I ve got a son that loves words of affirmation, and I will do nearly anything to bring him along with me so that he can hear words of affirmation from others. I ve got another son that wants to put himself to work alongside anyone needing help, so I will bring him with me for projects where others are all working together. The words they both hear from these experiences are added voices they need from someone not their father.

There is great value in my kids hearing words from others that are the same words they hear from their mother and I. Many times these same words from others seem to carry an extra power in the psyche of my kids.  When I find a good friend that brings out the good qualities in my children, I will go out of my way to bring them into my home and take them with us on family trips. I purposefully seek out great friendships for my children, and then encourage them. The addition of these good relationships can help to subtract the less healthy ones in ample time.

One great place to find the right voices are at a church that values small group relationships. If I m looking for voices that will spiritually encourage my kid s growth, then there is no better place than church! I m working hard as a parent to be intentional about what my children discover about having a relationship with Christ, and so we make these Christ following adult voices a priority in our home.

It is an intelligent parent that takes advantage of the church when it comes to the right kind of relationships. Our children have had the advantage of patient, grandparent-ly voices at church. They have listened to the passionate voices of college students that think they can conquer the world. They have heard the parents of their friends encourage them in their pursuits.

Before you go further as a parent today, take some time to think through who your child should be listening to. Is it a friend that they share likes with? Is it an adult that has inspired you, and you want your son to meet? Is it somebody older, wiser, and more educated than you? Is it someone younger and more ambitious than you? Is it a business entrepreneur, a devoted follower of Christ, a retired schoolteacher, or is it all three? Do the math and begin today by adding the right voices to your child s life.

 

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