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LEAD YOUR FAMILY LIKE JESUSPOWERFUL PARENTING PRINCIPLES FROM THE CREATOR OF FAMILIES
By KEN BLANCHARD PHIL HODGES TRICIA GOYER
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2013 The Center for Faithwalk Leadership/Lead Like Jesus
All right reserved.
Chapter OneImportant Forever
To Lead Like Jesus, Have an Eternal Perspective
Through His words and actions, Jesus taught that what people carry in their hearts is far more important than what they wear on their backs or where they lay their heads. He knew our hearts would be where our treasures are (Matthew 6:21). In his story about a major loss, Ken describes how he learned to take the long viewand how that view can revolutionize your parenting.
The voice message came when Margie and I were in Florida on an October day in 2007. She was at a conference in Orlando; I was in Naples playing golf with a bunch of old Cornell buddies. I got up a bit before 7:00 and checked my cell phone for messages. There was only one. It was from our son, Scott:
"Mom, Dad, I don't know where you are, but Mad and I had to evacuate our house. When we got down the road, we looked up and there were flames coming out of our place, and I think yours is gone, too. It's just awful."
That was my greeting for the day. The San Diego fireswhich we'd last heard were thirty-five miles from our homehad reached our doorstep. It looked as if they'd consumed it.
Frankly, Margie and I were sadder for our son than we were for ourselves. Scott and his wife, Madeleine, had just finished a ten-month remodel of their house. They'd done it with such love and care, and had just moved in. They'd created a happy home for their family.
Margie and I prayed. We asked God that if one house could be spared, it would be theirs.
Next day I was driving with my friend and coauthor Phil Hodges when I got the call from Scott.
"Dad, you won't believe it!" he shouted. "I'm standing in our living room and our house was saved!"
Our prayer had been answered! The front doormat and some towels on the back deck had been charredand the houses on both sides had burned to the ground. But Scott and Madeleine's house had been spared.
Scott's tone turned serious. "I'm afraid your house is gone, Dad."
"Scott, that's exactly what Mom and I prayed would happen!" I shouted, laughing and crying with happiness.
It mattered less that our house was gone. I was so overjoyed by Scott's news that we pulled the car over by the beach. Phil and I got out and ran along the shore shouting, "Lord, You're unbelievable!" Phil got a picture of me with my hands in the air and a great grin on my face.
Maybe my reaction was influenced by some reading I'd been doing. I'd just finished John Ortberg's wonderful book When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box. John has a marvelous exercise in the book that goes like this:
It's 4:00 in the afternoon and you're getting ready to go home. There are two piles of Post-It notes on your desk. One says Important Forever and the other says Temporary Stuff. Put a Post-It from one of the two piles on everything you notice as you leavethe computer, your desk, your administrative assistant, the Coke machine, your receptionist, your car. Then do the same when you get homeon your bicycle, your golf clubs, people, and things in the house.
After the fire, it was clear to Margie and me where those sticky notes should go. What's really Important Forever is who you love and who loves you. We knew God was with us and what was really important in life, even as we walked through the ashes. Our family was safe. Even our dog was safe and being cared for by a friend. We'd lost a lot of temporary stuff, including many precious mementos, but we had each other. We still had our children, our grandchildren, our friends, and our coworkers.
Pause & Reflect
What is the Temporary Stuff in your life? What is Important Forever?
As a leader of your family, are you focusing on what's temporaryor on what will last?
WHAT DID JESUS DO?
Jesus knew all about that kind of eternal perspective:
"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust orworse!stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being." (Matthew 6:19-21, MSG)
Just knowing about the long-term view wasn't enough for Jesus, of course. Everything He did was about the forever benefits, and He calls us to do the same:
Do you see what this meansall these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start runningand never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headedthat exhilarating finish in and with Godhe could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1-3, MSG)
HOLDING LOOSELY, CLINGING TIGHTLY
For many years Margie and I had a vision for our family, and those beliefs came out through our actions. We believed our house was not our own, that God had given it to us for His use. When we lost it, we mourned for the dwelling. But we also rejoiced in the ways God had allowed us to use it to care for others.
Because we wanted to celebrate all the good times, we held a memorial celebration for our house. The purpose of our service was to talk about the good times people had there. More than 100 people attended! Over the course of twenty-five years, individuals and families had lived in our home for two, three, or even more months. It was wonderful to have others talk about a party they remembered, or how they'd lived there during a tough time. They shared how it felt to be in our home. We immersed ourselves in what had been great about that house and all the memories we'd built there.
* * *
There are temporary things that always need to be donecleaning, cooking, bathing, etc.but I also like to focus on things that last forever, like spending time with others, serving others, making sure to praise my children, teaching them godly principles, and educating them.
Martha, mother of four
At the end of that event, our daughter, Debbiewho has quite the sense of humorspoke. "You know, I used to go to my parents' house," she said. "And I would look in the closets and the garage and would think, When something happens to them, it's going to be my job to clean this all out! And I don't have to do that now!"
Her comment may have seemed flippant, but in many ways it just reflected this reality: Even though our material things were gone, the memories were still with us. Our lives had been lightened. What we carried in our hearts was something that could never be taken away. And the service we gave to others in that house would forever be carried with them. No fire could destroy that.
CHERISHING THOSE YOU LOVE
It's easy to focus our time and efforts on thingsjobs, houses, activities. But in times like the fire we learn that what we carry in our hearts and relationships is what lasts. Margie and I were challenged to hold things loosely and cherish peopleparticularly our family and one another. We were reminded that God's love is another thing that lasts; a fire can't take it away.
Peter Drucker once said that nothing good ever happens by accident. If you want something good to happen, he advised, put some structure around it. So let me give you some practical ways to act on the eternal perspective by cherishing your family. We have a few traditions that might inspire you.
Birthday Blessings. On every family member's birthday, we have a family gathering. As part of the celebration, we sit at the dining room table. One by one, each of us tells the person whose birthday it is what we really love and cherish about him or her. Our kids, Scott and Debbie, used to protest this tradition. But today they encourage their kids to take part in it, too.
Christmas Recital. Between dinner and dessert on Christmas Day, all our family and friends who are gathered share something special with everyone. They can sing a song, recite a poem, or tell us something important in their lives. This not only delights all those who are gathered, it makes the day memorable and meaningful.
Date Night. Margie's brother, Tom, and his wife, Jill, try to schedule a date night every week, when they get a babysitter and have a night just for themselves. There is no focus on their work or kids, just on their relationship. What a wonderful way to cherish each other!
* * *
Our Christmas Eve tradition started when our daughter was ten months old. It includes my husband reading the Christmas story from our family Bible while [we drink] hot chocolate. We also read a version of "The Night Before Christmas." As the kids have gotten older, they want to read the story from the Bible. We look forward to it every year!
Regina, mother of two
My husband and I are very intentional about having a weekly (almost always) date night. Our kids know that it is a time for the two of us. Our eldest also has seen that we take time for our marriage by going to marriage conferences to keep "tuned up." Our whole household tells each other "I love you" whenever we are leaving. We want the last thing heard from us to be something kind and " forever," in case Jesus takes us home before we see each other again.
Allison, mom of three
ETERNAL LIFE, ABUNDANT LIFE
You may be thinking, Was having your house burn to the ground really such a positive experience? It's nice that you learned a lesson, but didn't you have at least a little trouble with this disaster?
Of course we did. And dealing with it meant taking a more eternal, God-centered perspective, too. As I tried to process the loss of our house and all our things, I thought of one of my favorite Bible verses:
"I came that they may have life and that they may have it abundantly." (John 10:10, ESV)
Just before the fire, I'd been studying another John passage with my Bible teacher and friend, Rich Case:
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
During this study I'd asked Rich, "What did Jesus mean by abundant life?"
"Jesus wants us to have joy, peace, and righteousness," Rich had said. "Any time you don't feel joyful or peaceful or right with God, you're probably going it your own way and you're detached from the vine."
As the reality of losing our home and everything in it sank in, Margie and I weren't very joyful or peaceful. After I shared with Margie what I'd learned from Rich, we put our hands out and said, "Lord, we really need You. We can't make it through this by ourselves." With that thought constantly in our minds, we were able to maintain a peaceful feeling in the days and weeks that followed. Jesus met us in our time of need.
And that's the key to leading a family like Jesusnot only following His example, but relying on His presence within us. It's our lives connected to His.
We parents can try to give and serve in our own strength, but we won't get very far. It's His heart we're striving for. When we find His heart, He will transform ours. We can turn to Him during the hardest times of family life, and He'll be there, giving us the peace to make it throughand reminding us what's most important.
* * *
I have three kids. One has Asperger's and the other two are strong-willed. It is a necessity that I ask Jesus to walk with me. So each morning before my feet touch the floor, I pray. I ask Jesus to be tangible, to help me be able to hear His voice over the chaos that sometimes swallows my day.
Heather, mother of three
We aimthough we often failto include Christ in every aspect of our daily living. I pray first thing in the morning. My wife and son read the Bible together during home preschool time. We pray at mealsnot just as a routine, but with intentional hearts together as a family. We pray when we need help and we try to remember to praise as quickly as we can. As a family, we know we need Him, and we're trying to work together to remind each other to go to Him first. We end our day together as a family, reading our "goodnight" books and Scripture.
Joey, father of two
When we lost our house, in the world's eyes we'd lost everythingbut Margie and I knew better. We'd spent twenty-five years caring for the things in our home. In the end, Margie and Iand the family we builtare what stood. That's what the foundation of leading your family like Jesus is all about: focusing on who you love and who loves you.
Leading your family like Jesus focuses on what's really important.
And it all starts in the heart.
Pause & Reflect
Tonight, thank God for giving you a family and a chance to parent.
Write a prayer telling God you're a willing servant for your family. As you're preparing that prayer, do an honest assessment of how often you're a servant leader in your familyand how often you're a self-serving leader.
Excerpted from LEAD YOUR FAMILY LIKE JESUS by KEN BLANCHARD PHIL HODGES TRICIA GOYER Copyright © 2013 by The Center for Faithwalk Leadership/Lead Like Jesus. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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