How to Talk to Your Kids About Scary Events in the News

Parent Advice from Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers

I didn’t have a TV growing up but when I would go visit my Grandma and Grandpa for the summers as a kid I would always watch Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He was riveting to 6-year-old TV-less me. Now that I am older and have worked with kids for over 20 years I know why. He understood childlikeness. He understood the hopes and fears of kids and he understood how we in many ways never grow past those hopes and fears we just learn how to ignore or indulge them. We have lost the art of civility in our country and have lost our ability and capacity for wonder. It is something that as a nation we need to fight for. We need to face our fears and regain the hope that cynicism has destroyed.

Our kids are growing up seeing more painful things on TV and social media than many in previous generations never experienced in a lifetime. How as parents do we shield our kids without being overprotective? How do we talk to them about the scary things they have seen or experienced? 

Mr. Rogers gives us the following advice that is so typically Rogers: that is both pithy and profound.

  1. Ask your kids how much they know about the situation they are asking about. We find that their fantasies are very different from the actual truth. (Address their fears and give them hope.)
  2. What children need to hear most is that they can talk to us about anything. (We need to listen more than give quick answers or false assurances.)
  3. We will do all that we can to keep them safe in any scary time.

Kids need our presence and our promise to do all we can to protect them more than the need perfect answers to impossible questions. Don’t avoid hard conversations or difficult questions show up and give kids your full attention and then assure them that you will protect them as much as you can in every situation and God will be with them in every situation and perfectly protect them. Kids like us need assurance far more than they need pat answers.

 

 

Build Something Worth Building

Are you building something that has worth?

Building something of worth doesn’t happen just because you work at a church or volunteer at one. Building something of worth isn’t taking some good idea you hear at a conference and force it on your church with the ferocity of a hostage negotiator. Many Churches struggle with what it means to build something of worth. One of the reasons for this struggle is many churches have a warped view of worth. Often we equate success with worth. Often having the right people think highly of us equals worth. At times we actually think that becoming famous builds the kingdom of God when the weight of scripture goes out of its way to communicate that our job is not vine building and fruit-bearing but just being a stick that derives it’s life and produces fruit because of the vine it’s connected to. We need to understand what Jesus considers valuable.

When I am weak then I am strong –

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

To build something of worth, weakness is the way. The older I get the more I realize that what I thought was valuable 20 years ago is worthless. The more I know Christ the more I understand the gospel. The more I realize that Christ is my treasure. He is infinitely more valuable to me than anything. When I understand that I am free to not have to be the man I can make mistakes I can love those who take advantage of me, I can build in a way that checks my ego at the door because It’s not about me being remembered it’s about Christ getting all the glory. Being in the same church for over 17 years I have come to the understanding that if I left not long after I left I would be forgotten.  When we build our own kingdom we waste our strength building what we could never sustain. When we spend our lives glorifying God we pass to the young leaders God has entrusted to us to lead a rich heritage of faith that will outlive us.

Be a good branch –

John 15:1-5 
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

There is a misguided and if we are honest an exhausting truth that the bigger deal we become the broader our ability to make Jesus more famous. Are we supposed to work hard? Yes. But what we don’t get to do is determine what we want the outcomes to be. We are called to abide to be hidden with Christ. It’s very easy for us to get distracted by the promise of deeper truth or the desire to become Christian famous when all we are called to do is abide. Abide. Our ability to build something that produces fruit is not in how much how hard or how deeply we are connected to the vine but simply that we are connected. If you want to build something of worth and you should. Abide in Christ. What does it mean to abide? Trust Him. Talk to Him. Think about Him. Place your hopes and dreams in His infinite hands. Abide.

You don’t need another good idea –

Ephesians 3:7-9

7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,

Everyone likes a good idea. In fact, I think many of us are addicted to them. I know I am. When I get in trouble or something isn’t going right, attendance is below last year, giving is down. What do I do? Do I ask God for help? No, I go into my thought palace and try to find a good idea to help me out of the hole that I have most often dug for myself. Why do I try and come up with a good idea? Because many times a good idea works for a while. Until it doesn’t then we look for another good idea. We become good idea junkies. We go to conferences to get the next good idea to keep our church or our ministry going. What we fail to realize is good ideas are a by-product, not a source. Good ideas come for principle-based, gospel-centered, Christ exhausting ministries who exist to Glorify God for who he is not just for what he can do for them. Our ability to minister in whatever capacity we find ourselves in a work of grace. Recognize you are a great sinner, preach the riches of Christ because of the miracle of grace by which you have been saved. Do that and no matter what happens in your life you will build something bigger than you. You will build something that will outlast you…..something of worth.

Weakness produces humility, abiding produces dependence and principles sustain.

How do you want to build something of worth?

1. Make sure your life is hidden in Christ. (Col. 3:3)
2. Remember your weakness is a showcase for His glory
3. It’s our connectedness that makes us fruitful
4. Be principally based not idea driven
5. Make sure that you never forget that you are a great sinner who has a great Saviour.

Do those things and your impact may never be felt on twitter but it most definitely will be felt in eternity.

What’s Durable Trumps What’s Visible.

Louie Giglio's challenge to young leaders

I came across this Instagram post on Louie Giglio’s Instagram account. In his Instagram post, Louie challenges young leaders to go deeper. His challenge is challenging for young leaders and old leaders alike. I love that Louie does a college conference and gets the best youth speakers out there but always has John Piper speak. He wants new voices but recognizes kids need tried and true voices as well. I love that Louie is challenging young people to look past the glitter of youth to what matters most. That he pushes people to think deeply about their faith and to focus on what matters most.

We live in a superficial age where followers matter more than following where sermons are more about tweetablity than biblical reliability where being liked, friended, and followed seem to be an end in themselves. I am grateful for seasoned leaders who push young people to find fruitfulness in the faithfulness. Here are Louie’s thoughts to which I can only add “Amen.”

Hello young leaders. What’s durable trumps what’s visible. So often we are tempted to go for what looks good over what is good. Conditioned by an instant culture, the approval of others and a climate of comparison, we can lose ourselves in the quest to be seen, when the goal is to be steady. Don’t get in too big a rush to tell the world what you know. Get to know the One who is unseen and walk with Him as if you really believe He is the best treasure of all. Work diligently toward the mission He calls you to, embracing the reality that what you do in secret will be rewarded in the open. Go from acceptance, not for acceptance. From approval, not for it. You’ll never lose by digging deep, staying true, not giving up, building character in the crucible of challenge, breathing in, hanging on and becoming more weighty below the surface than you are impressive above it. Stop waiting for the world to applaud your branches and keep asking your Father to fortify your roots. Time proves character, reveals motives and confirms calling. Faithfulness always wins in the end. – Louie Giglio

What Makes You Cry.

The things that bring sorrow to your life are a pretty good indicator of what is most valuable to you. The things that create tears in us are often from the disturbance of one of the idols of our hearts. We need to ask ourselves what makes us cry? When did I cry last? If you haven’t cried a lot lately, you need to ask yourself why not?

When I was a kid, I would cry about things that affected me. Not getting what I think I deserved. I remember crying when kids bigger than me made fun of me. It was all centered around my discomfort more than anything else. I was young and at the center of my own universe. As I got older my tears changed somewhat I would cry when I received rebuke for my sin by my pastors and parents. I remember sitting in church at age 13 drawing a picture of a weird looking devil thing, and my youth pastor saw me he met with me and rebuked me I was a mess. I felt bad; I was beginning to feel to the sorrow that sin brings into the lives of everyone it touches.

I am thankful my parents didn’t shield me from the rebuke I deserved from my youth pastor. Parents let your kids cry. Make your kids cry. So often we rightly want to console them and pacify them that we fail to allow them to feel the weight of their sin and see the beauty of Christ.

Several weeks ago one of my kids made fun of another kid and said something hurtful. I told them they had to go to that person’s house and apologize. The whole family was eating dinner on the deck. My son said to me “Right now? Everyone is outside.” I said Yes right now go. My son came back broken and weeping. I told him “Do you feel good right now?” he said no. I said this is what sin does to you. Did you feel good about yourself when you were roasting that other kid? He said Yes. I told him that sin will always do this to you. If feels good for a moment but when you and those you love are faced with the reality of what sin does you will weep tears far bigger and feel the pain of that sin much deeper. I told him that this is what sin does it sells you short-term pleasure and shields you from the long-term pain it brings.

What makes you weep? Rebecca VanDoodewaard in this months Table Talk says this.

Have you ever noticed when old people cry? Not bitter old people, but elderly saints?

They don’t cry when they’re scared. They don’t cry about personal slights or disappointments. They rarely cry out of frustration. Instead, they tend to cry about two things: sin and its effects on others, and grace and its effects on others.

With sanctification, old age makes people’s souls strong and tender, not bitter and brittle. And the holier the saint, the more tender they are to sin and grace. Christlikeness makes them tender to the same things that Jesus is tender to. As we grow closer to the Lord, wisdom allows us to accurately identify “a time to weep” (Eccl. 3:4). Those are tears that honor the Lord even as they teach younger Christians about God’s economy: let’s weep for this broken world and God’s grace in it.

This is so true of all of us. One of the signs of the sanctifying work of God in our lives is our tears change. We become more like Christ because we no longer cry about our discomfort but we weep over our the sins of others. We weep at the effects of sin on our world and we weep as Christ is weeping over our own sin.

5 Signs You Might be an Insecure Leader

Leadership is not easy. The reality is that every person leads at some level. The question is not are you a leader as much as how well are you leading. Growing up in the church I saw one insecure leader after another. I never saw them as insecure leaders until I started to work at Redeemer 21 years ago. I began serving Mike Servello Sr. as his kids’ Pastor and currently serve his son Mike Servello Jr. as his Pastor of Families. Mike and his father are by far the most secure leaders I have ever met. It was only through their confident yet humble Christ centered leadership that came to see those other leader and even myself at times as an insecure leader.

One of the things that amazes me most about the church is the epidemic proportions in which insecurity runs through church leadership. One of the most valuable things I have learned in my nearly two decades working with Mike and his father is the importance of security in leadership, if you want to lead for the long haul your security better be found in Christ. Insecure leaders create drama, havoc and pain in the lives of those they lead. If you lead I as that you ask yourself the following questions, as I wrote these I found them convicting, and humbling.

How do you know that you are an insecure leader?

1. You surround yourself with people you can control. – Insecure leaders hinder their organization because they don’t look to hire or attract the best people for a job. They look to attract people who are not as good as they are. People with less experience, who can be controlled mentally or emotionally.