Apr 19, 2012

A View from the Empty Nest: A recipe for raising Godly leaders.

I was blessed to get a chance to speak with our local MOPS group about raising Godly young men.  In preparing for every speaking engagement I write an article to help clarify my thoughts.  I also like using the material a few times. Enjoy!

Today was a glorious day.  My son is in the 2nd grade and he was the “Buckaroo of the Week.”  My wife and I were invited into his classroom to talk to his peers about what our boy is good at.  As we walked into the classroom, our little son caught a glimpse of us and his eyes lit up.  He is one of the last Buckaroos this year, so he has seen all of his friends receive praise; it was finally his turn!!!

Seated in the front of the room on a little stool, Noah bounced his knees a bit nervously as his mom and I told stories that pointed to his strengths.  We told the class how much we loved him and how proud of him we were.  When we were done, Noah’s teacher asked him to call on his classmates as they raised their hands high to share something that they thought our buddy was good at.

Noah was glowing. He felt loved and appreciated, strong and special--and he is.

And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
-Mark 1:11

God spoke into His son in the same way.  This verse comes just after Jesus is baptized and just before he goes into the wilderness for 40 days and is tempted.

It is amazing to see the power of a parent’s praise in our son’s little life and to be able to relate it back to the life of Christ.  If this was important enough for God to say to His boy, it should certainly make my list.

I am no authority on the psychology of children and I have no degree in child development.  I do have three boys.  Three lovely, fun, capable, silly, playful little wild-things; and I have an obligation to raise them in a way that prepares them for life and for eternity.

I also have a unique perspective from my seat in life which I will share with you.  I’ll also spell out the plan that my wife and I have prepared to raise our boys in hopes that hearing it blesses you and your family.

A View from the Empty Nest.  I get to interact with clients each day, most of whom are in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.  We talk quite a bit about what life looks like.  We talk about the things they care about, things they enjoy.  We talk about their kids.  You get right to the heart when you have a conversation about the kids.  I love when I see a couple come to life as they talk about their children and what they are doing.  They are proud of their children and look forward to seeing their grandchildren grow.

Others act quite a bit differently.  The conversation about the kids is more difficult, often one spouse will hang their head while the other tells about the difficulties they are seeing in their children’s lives.  They share regrets.  They wish they could see more of their kids and they long for healing.

As Moses shares the Ten Commandments, we hear the following message:

I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
-Deuteronomy 5:9-10

It is clear to see the effects of a parent’s choices on their children.  If they were loved and nurtured, taught to love the Lord and saw their parents walk with Him, often we see proud parents.  When life was too focused on work or wealth or anything else, we see these relationships suffer.

Setting the Bar High.  I would suggest that the world’s perspective of a “real man” isn’t quite what we are reaching for.  The vision that we receive from media won’t cut it.  We could aspire to raise Godly men.  That’s a bit closer, but still not quite there.  My wife and I want to be strategic.  We want our boys to leave home with an understanding of what God calls a man to be.  We want them to know that they are capable of leading their families and their communities, not of their own strength, but because of their special calling.

We don’t just want to raise men; we want to raise Godly leaders.  This is the aspiration that my parents had in raising me.  When my boys are grown and I am asked about them, I will not hang my head. I want to point to Christ and praise Him for His good work.

A Recipe for Raising Godly Leaders.  Great cooking doesn’t happen by accident (at least not in my house) and great destinations aren’t reached without a travel plan.  Here are the ingredients my wife and I have found as a recipe for Godly leadership in our boys.  Most of these ideas are borrowed and I’ll make sure to reference the literature so you can go to the source.

1. Commitment to a Cause.  We realize this isn’t going to be an easy task.  The old “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality just wont cut it.  We will have to muster up everything we have and to sacrifice a bit to pour into our kids in the way we want to.  The good news?  Our boys are worth it.  Our grandchildren are worth it.  The work that we muster up today will leave my wife and I more fulfilled, it will create Godly leaders, and it has the power to change generations.

2. Unstoppable Power.  We are not on our own.  The Bible says in John 10:10, “Christ came that we would have life, and that we would have it more abundantly.”  We anticipate struggles, challenges and difficulties.  In the desperate and difficult times in my past, I can say with assurance that Christ carried me through.  Thank goodness that He is alive and that He lives in us.  He has everything it takes to raise Godly Leaders and we need to invite Him in.

3. A Super-Human Thirst for Knowledge.  My wife and I have been introduced to some amazing resources.  These books are great and have helped us to mature in our roles as father and mother (though we have an awfully long way to go).  We also know to go to The Source of all wisdom.  The books and resources can only take us so far.  We have to pray for wisdom constantly.

4. Call For Back-Up…Early!  I take great joy and comfort in knowing that there are other dads in our community that desire to raise Godly children.  I join with them as often as I can and we learn from each other and build each other up.  We share silly stories, and pray for our kids.  We play together and our kids hear the same message from other parents, which reinforces the weight of it all.

5. Make It Last.  My wife and I took pictures of our time with our oldest son in his classroom today. We have a list of all of the things that we told him and all of the strengths that his classmates shared.  We are going to print a picture of that moment and frame it with a list of his strengths to hang in his room.  In his book, Raising a Modern Day Knight, Robert Lewis suggests that we should use moments like these to drive the message home for our children.  These “ceremonies,” as he calls them, are opportunities to take all that you have provided and to create unforgettable memories that will reinforce the Godly leadership that has been instilled, forever.

6. Enjoy Our Efforts and Start Again.  Have you ever been micromanaged?  You have worked hard to get to a certain place, to attain the necessary skills, only then to be stifled by someone looking over your shoulder?  Once you have done the hard work with your sons, don’t over-manage.  Create Godly leaders and then LET THEM LEAD!  Set them free to do the work.  Keep the doors open so that they have a safe place to seek feedback if needed, but don’t stifle them.

I have a hard time keeping books around.  When I read a good one, I have to give it away.  I have enjoyed sending books on this subject to my parents, inviting them to join us in raising Godly leaders.  Lord-willing, our boys will invite my wife and I to help point their children to The Truth.

I enjoyed our time today with our oldest, sharing with him words of affirmation.  I look forward to the days ahead and hope to continue to bless him in this way.  I look forward to the day when our Heavenly Father welcomes us back home, and I hope to hear,

“You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
                        Mark 1:11
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