Are You Giving Your Kids the Right Life?

kids

If you ask any parent, “What do you want for your kids?”, eventually you will hear, “I want them to have the life I never had.” They may not sound like that, but parents want their kids to have everything. Yes, we want them to be smart, courteous, have character, show kindness and generosity, but we want them to have it all.

Does every parent want that?

Almost.

If that’s not you, thanks for reading and you can scroll to the next blog.

But let me ask this question: Are you giving your kids the right life?

Many parents, in an effort to make sure their kids have every opportunity, get the best schooling, play on sports teams and have opportunities for future advancement, go to extreme measures. Parents work long hours or multiple jobs so that they can have the money to pay for all those activities. They run kids from one team, one program, one practice to the next. They push and push so that kids are getting less sleep and growing up faster.

Then you throw this in with what the parents think their kids want for the rest of their lives.

Let me give you an example.

I overheard someone recently talking about their kids and how much both parents were working. This parent said, “My kids are starting to complain that my wife and I aren’t around enough for them because we work too much.” Someone in the group asked, “What did you say?” The parent looked at the group and said, “I told them, ‘You want nice things, don’t you? You want to go on nice vacations and live in the house we have and do the things we do, don’t you?'”

If you can picture the scene, you can imagine the awkward silence that followed.

The answer to that question, if this child answered honestly, would probably be, “Not really.”

I walked away sad for this family but also convicted by this question: Am I giving my kids the life they want, the life they need or the life I think they should have?

It’s a convicting question.

Often I give my kids the life I want them to have. The life that reflects well on me. The life that feels easier or less stressful as a parent.

Not always, but it is easy to fall into.

This is one reason that Katie and I created a family mission statement a few years ago. I detailed the process we went through and what ours is in my book Breathing Room: Stressing Less and Living More.

The problem for parents is, in the hustle and bustle of life, we don’t know the kind of kids we are raising. We have never asked ourselves, “What is the goal of parenting? What will our kids be like when they leave our house?”

Without clarifying that, we end up giving our kids the life everyone else is going for.

But what if that isn’t the life you want for your kids or the life they need?

The Top 10 Posts of 2016…So Far

Saw this idea on Art Rainer’s blog and had to steal it. What a great way to review the year so far and help catch up new readers. If you’ve been reading my blog and subscribe, thank you. If you are brand new, welcome. Be sure to subscribe to the right so you never miss a post.

Here are the top 10 posts of 2016…so far:

1. 5 Systems Every Church NeedsGrowing churches are not accidental. Yes, Jesus grows His church, but when you look at churches that are growing and healthy, they have a lot of similarities. One of them has to do with the systems they have in place. There are five systems that you need to have in place as a church or church plant to help your church grow and be effective.

2. 5 Books Every Pastor & Church Staff Should Read. Leaders are readers, and teams that have strong leaders read books together. While you can read any number of books together as a team, here are five books that I think every pastor should read and re-read.

3. How to Invite Someone to Church. Inviting someone to church can be intimidating and a weird task. How do you know when you should invite someone? Are there triggers to listen for? This post lays out how to know when to invite someone to church and how to do it.

4. 9 Things I Learned From Preaching About HomosexualityThis past year I preached through the book of Romans, and right off the bat in chapter 1 Paul walks through what has become one of the most controversial conversations in our culture: homosexuality and gay marriage. Preparing for that message was eye opening to me personally and then to my church. I learned a lot, was challenged by it and convicted by it. Before you have a conversation on the topic or preach on it, I’d encourage you to read what I learned.

5. How do I Get my Husband to Lead at Home? This is one of the most common questions that Katie gets from women. The idea of men leading at home can often be a fuzzy goal. Most people aren’t sure what it looks like, or if a husband leads at home, what does a wife do then? This post shows you two reasons why men don’t lead in their homes and three practical steps to encourage them to do so.

6. How to Recover from PreachingPreaching is exhausting and exhilarating. There is nothing like preparing a sermon, being able to share from God’s Word and seeing the Holy Spirit use that time, effort, prayer and preparation. Yet come Monday, many pastors are run down, exhausted and wondering if they can move forward and preach again. This post shares five things I’ve learned on how to recover from preaching.

7. How to NOT Have a Big Day at ChurchEvery pastor would love to have a big day at their church, a day that brings in guests, momentum and energy to the church. Yet many churches sabotage themselves and miss a great opportunity. This post shows you six ways to make sure you do NOT have a big day at your church. Ever.

8. Bill Hybels on “The Lenses of Leadership” from Leadership Summit 2016This post shares highlights from what I think was the best session at this year’s leadership summit.

9. How to Grow as a Leader as Your Church GrowsAs a church grows, so must the leader who leads it. It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of church life and find yourself not leading or working on your church, only in it. This post shares five questions for a pastor to ask on a regular basis to make sure they are not only growing as a leader but thinking ahead for their church.

10. How to Stay on the Same Team in Your MarriageIt is easy in the busyness of life to find you and your spouse no longer on the same page. Carting kids around, family gatherings, church, work, hobbies, money, and all of a sudden you and your spouse are running in opposite directions. It happens subtly, and without intentionality a couple won’t get on the same page. This post shares simple ideas to get back on the same page and stay on it.

Here are two bonus posts from 2015 that still get a lot of traffic:

1. 18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife. It is easy for a husband to stop learning about his wife, stop pursuing her and simply exist in his marriage. This post shares 18 things a husband should know, and if you don’t know, these would be great conversation starters on your next date night.

2. 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Spouse RegularlyThis is a post Katie and I shared last year after a relationship series at our church. These questions lead to some very eye opening conversations for a couple and ones that you should return to on a regular basis. Enjoy!

How to Have Energy for Your Spouse When Your Kids Exhaust You

spouse

All parents run into this. They want to spend time with their kids. They want to spend time with their spouse. They want to have friends, hobbies and a life. Yet when you have kids, you find yourself exhausted at the end of the day.

Katie and I often get asked how to have energy for your spouse at the end of the day when your kids exhaust you. Here are some of our thoughts:

1. Evaluate your schedule. Why are you tired? Why do you feel like you and your spouse don’t have enough time with each other? How many activities are you running your kids to? Often the reason that you are too tired for your spouse is because of the season you are in; other times it is simply your fault. Many times we don’t put our spouse in our schedule. I realize how unromantic that sounds, but I say this all the time: You have all the time to do everything you want to do. And that includes time with your spouse. If you want to have time to be with them, put it in your calendar. Date nights don’t just happen. Conversations don’t just happen.

2. Decide ahead of time what the night will look like. At some point in the day, Katie and I will have a conversation in person, on the phone or over text that goes like this: “What do you want tonight to look like?”

This helps to set clear expectations for the night. Do you need time to talk, time alone, to watch TV, be quiet, take a walk? Is your spouse in the mood for sex? Having those conversations ahead of time helps to keep feelings from getting hurt.

The other side of this is that it helps you both to prepare. If you are tired but your spouse wants to talk or have sex, knowing that ahead of time helps you gear up for the evening.

3. Communicate to your kids your expectations for them. In the same way that you and your spouse need to be on the same page, you and your kids need to be on the same page. Your kids need to know that time as a couple is the most important thing in your family. Remember, one day your kids will move out, so your marriage matters more than your relationship with your kids. Make sure they know what the expectations are for the evening. This will take time, but it is crucial. One of the ways you create security for your kids is by communicating the security of your marriage.

4. Remove barriers. There are a lot of barriers to deepening your marriage relationship; some of them are ones you create, and others are ones that just happen. Many of the barriers that keep a couple from connecting has to do with electronics. I know some families put their phones in a basket at night or have a no electronics policy at dinner. Get rid of the things that are keeping you from connecting as a couple.

9 Things I Learned From Preaching About Homosexuality

homosexuality

Recently I preached on the topic of sexuality, specifically homosexuality, and what the Bible says about it. I’ll be honest, for me this sermon felt like a dark cloud waiting for me as I thought about our series through Romans. While I love preaching and don’t mind when people disagree with me, this topic feels different in our culture.

Let me be vulnerable for a minute. This topic is one reason it took me so long to preach through Romans. Sadly, one reason is because of fear of what people would think of me and our church. The other is because I didn’t know if I could talk about it in a way that didn’t make me sound like a jerk. I’m convinced if I had preached this sermon two years ago, the tone would have been radically different, and that grieves my heart to think about what I used to sound like, but also grateful for the work of God in my heart.

Now that I’m done with that confession, I hope you’re still reading.

If you are a pastor, you should preach on this topic. If you will, here are nine things I learned that you should keep in mind:

1. Your people are curious. If you’re a pastor, you get the question, “What do you believe about homosexuality or gay marriage?” on a weekly basis. I know I do. People are curious. Most people think they know what Christians think, but most Christians aren’t even sure what they think. Why is there so much hate around this topic? Why do Christians treat this sin differently than others? Is that right? Did God make someone that way? Do I attend a gay wedding? How do I respond to a friend or child who says, “I’m gay”? All of these are questions they have.

2. Your tone matters as much as, if not more than, your content. Your content matters, so before you email me about that, it matters. A lot. You need to be clear and say, “This is what I think the Bible says.” In fact, as one friend told me, “Your church will remember your tone more than your content after this sermon”, and I believe that is true.

3. Your language and tone tells your church how to communicate it. Not only are you training your church what to believe about homosexuality, but you are also training them how to talk about it, what they will sound like. You are teaching them how to treat people in our culture that they disagree with. Christians are notoriously terrible at this. We post stuff on social media on a whole host of topics without ever asking, “How will a friend of mine who disagrees with me take this?” If you don’t have a friend who disagrees with you on homosexuality or some other closely held belief, that is a problem.

4. Your language and tone tell people who struggle with same sex attraction what kind of reaction they can expect from your church. This to me is one of the most important things about this entire topic and how to preach on it. Sitting in your church every week are people who love your church and are trying to love, or trying to figure out who God is, and they are wondering, “What do I do with these feelings? Do I talk about them in my small group? Can I ask my pastor about it?” You are telling them, “If you bring this up, here’s the reaction you can expect.” My hope is that my church will be a safe place to bring up this or any other struggle. It helped me to talk with friends who are gay and ask them about their story. How did people react? I also asked, “If you walked into a church and this topic was being talked about, what would you want to hear or not hear? How can I communicate what I think and not sound like a jerk?” These were incredibly helpful conversations.

5. It helps to preach through a book of the Bible. I don’t know if I would choose to preach on this topic if it wasn’t in a book of the Bible I was preaching through. In fact, I wouldn’t choose to preach on most topics, because like all pastors I have the topics I like to talk about, and those are usually ones that aren’t uncomfortable or things I’ve conquered in my life. That’s why preaching through a book of the Bible is so important. It makes you unable to skip things. I couldn’t just breeze over these verses. Also, it helps in prep. I knew for over a year that this topic was coming, so I was able to get articles, books and other resources to work through in preparation.

6. This is a gospel and worship issue. This topic is incredibly divisive for a number of reasons. It is a political battlefield as it relates to rights. (I think that’s a different topic, so when I preached on homosexuality, I stayed away from that.) It is also incredibly personal because most people are related to someone or are friends with someone who is gay. This is all about the gospel and worship. Here’s why: Is Jesus Lord and King? If so, then it matters what he says about this. If not, then we are back to exploring the gospel and what Jesus said. (And yes, Jesus talked about homosexuality, so don’t let someone tell you, “Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.”) Additionally, marriage is connected with the gospel throughout the Bible. Whenever we talk about it, we are talking about the gospel.

7. As passionate as you are about homosexuality being a sin, be that passionate about greed, gossip and adultery being a sin. Yes, I believe that the Bible calls a homosexual relationship a sin. I don’t think struggling with same sex attraction is a sin, just like being tempted isn’t a sin. Acting on that temptation is a sin. Getting drunk, ruling your life, trying to control your world, gossip, letting the opinion of others drive your life, being a workaholic, finding your identity in anything other than Jesus, the Bible calls all of those sins that Jesus died for. Yet Christians don’t put up a sign about that when they protest. If you are going to talk about this and be passionate, as so many are, be just as passionate about those committing adultery and being greedy as well. The Bible puts them all together. In fact, when Paul lists homosexuality in Romans 1, he also lists more than 10 other sins with it.

8. Think through redemption for someone in light of this topic. I’d love to say I have a clean answer on this, but I don’t yet as I’m still thinking and praying through it. Now that gay marriage is legal and happening more and more, what does redemption look like? What happens for the lesbian couple who has kids and they are rescued by Jesus? But if you are a pastor, you need to start wrestling through that and thinking about what gospel redemption looks like for those in gay marriages. In the same way that this conversation in our culture is becoming more and more complex (as letters continue to be added to LGBTQIA), this idea of redemption will become more complex.

9. Get over your fear. Maybe you aren’t afraid. If you aren’t afraid when you step into the pulpit to preach on homosexuality, you are probably going to sound like a jerk. Maybe not, but probably. If you are afraid, get over it. Pray through it, talk with friends, your elders, study up and get on stage and preach.

Celebrating 5 Years of Blogging

HABABZA1UY

Today marks 5 years of blogging for me on this site. Over the years, I’ve grown a lot not only as a writer, but also as a leader, husband and father. I thought in honor of that, I would share the 5 most popular posts since I started.

  1. Lies we Believe About Marriage
  2. Pastors Can Make the Worst Friends
  3. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  4. 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Spouse Regularly
  5. 18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife

In Honor of Valentine’s Day

love, valentine's day

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share the top 10 marriage and relationship posts that Katie and I have written over the years. Thanks for learning and growing with us over the years. Bookmark this page to use as a resource you can come back to. Katie and I hope this helps take your marriage to the next level.

  1. Lies Couples Believe About Marriage
  2. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  3. 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Spouse Regularly
  4. 18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife
  5. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  6. 10 Ways to Know if You’re Putting Your Kids Before Your Spouse
  7. When You Manipulate Your Husband, You Lose Him
  8. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  9. Surviving a Hard Season in Your Marriage
  10. When You Aren’t in the Mood for Sex

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The 10 Most Read Leadership & Marriage Posts of the Last Month

top 10 list 2010-resized-600

In case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts on leadership & marriage from the last month:

  1. The Beginning of The End
  2. How You Know You are Being Divisive (And Sinning)
  3. 5 Systems Every Church Needs
  4. How do I Get my Husband to Lead at Home?
  5. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  6. How to Build a Team
  7. 10 Books Every Christian Leader Should Read
  8. How to be a Team in Marriage
  9. 18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife
  10. 10 Ways to Know if You’re Putting Your Kids Before Your Spouse

How to Figure out God’s Will

God's Will

Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else.

This truth has had an enormous impact on how I live my life, how I make decisions, how we do our calendar as a family and how I lead Revolution Church.

But how do you know what to say yes and no to? That’s the most common question I get from someone who has read my book or has heard me say this in a talk. Honestly, it’s different for each person.

Too often we focus on what we want to do in the next day, week or month and then make a decision based on that. Let me frame it a different way for you: What kind of person do you want to become in the next month? In the next half year? One year from now, who do you want to be?

Will this involve doing something? Yes, but it changes the context.

For example, if a year from now you want to be closer to Jesus than you are today, a stronger disciple, then you will make the choice to say yes to community, yes to serving in your church, yes to reading your Bible, and yes to inviting people to church. That will then determine what you say no to.

Often we hope that something will happen. We will simply become kinder, more generous, thinner or smarter without putting in the work or even be willing to make a choice towards something. If you want to become a person who is known for ________, then you will have to make decisions for that to happen. A wish and a hope are not enough.

Take your marriage or another relationship. What if six months from now that relationship was stronger? It would mean that what you are doing right now would have to change. You would need to make more of an effort, you would have to say yes to giving time and energy to that relationship and saying no to something else (ie. golfing, sleeping in, working too late).

We often think we have no power over where our life goes, what our marriage becomes, the relationship we have with God or how kind we are. Yet we do. Every day we make decisions that get our life somewhere.

Here’s the problem: we never sit down to ask, Where do I want to end up?

How to be a Team in Marriage

marriage

Many times when I talk to couples who are frustrated in their marriage, how their spouse reacts to or helps/hurts them in reaching their goals comes up.

I’ve heard couples tell me, “We’re getting divorced because she is holding me back.” One woman told me, “He just isn’t on board with what I want to do with my life, so we’re going our separate ways.”

This is easy to do.

After all, didn’t we get married so we could have a teammate help us accomplish what we want to accomplish?

The cycle in marriage becomes about what we want and the goals we have in our heads: completing school, starting a business/church, certain financial benchmarks. When our spouse doesn’t get on board they are just dead weight getting in the way.

I realized a few years ago that I had made our marriage and family all about my goals. I’m a pretty driven person, and so we moved to Arizona to plant a church. We talked together about what this would mean, but as our kids started to get older, I realized that in my goal setting and drivenness, I left little room for Katie to explore her goals and dreams.

Now there are times in a marriage when you put the goals of one over the other. Maybe an opportunity comes along you can’t pass up. Maybe you decide when you get married that when you have kids the wife will stay home with the kids, so getting the man’s career off the ground matters greatly.

If you aren’t careful though, eventually a marriage will revolve around one person, and it can slowly suck the life and dreams out of the other.

Let me suggest a good (but scary) question to discuss as a couple: Are there any dreams you have right now that I am keeping you from reaching?

Now there are some dreams you have to let go of simply because you chose to get married. There are some dreams you let go of because you have kids. Not all of them, but your life is different now.

Usually the reason we don’t create space for our spouse is our selfishness. We will dress it up in different ways. Church planters will dress it up in God’s will. I did this for a long time. God called me to plant a church, she said yes to it, so it’s now our calling and our goal.

Let me speak to pastors for a minute. You help the people in your church discern God’s will for their lives. You help them learn how God has gifted them and how to best use those gifts and talents. Do you do that for your wife? She is part of your church. Who is she apart from being a pastor’s wife? Who is she as a person who attends your church, and what has God called her to?

Too many couples either give up hope on accomplishing something together, or if given enough time, their dreams will well up inside of them until they will begin thinking about pursuing them apart from the other person.

When, if you took the step of being a teammate to your spouse, you could unleash their dreams together.

How do I Get my Husband to Lead at Home?

husband

One of the questions Katie and I get a lot is, “How do I get my husband to lead at home?”

One of the biggest reasons men don’t lead at home is twofold: 1) They don’t think they can do it, and 2) Their wife is leading (because he isn’t and stuff has to get done), and she is very good at it.

One thing men don’t do often is duplicate efforts. If you as a wife are leading at home, taking up the mantle of the spiritual life of your family, keeping the family on track in scheduling to make sure you aren’t overwhelmed, he won’t do it.

While Scripture calls men to lead in their homes, most women do it, and honestly most women are better suited to do it. But as I have seen over and over, and Scripture is on point with this, when we get off track from God’s way, even with gifting in the mix, it is disastrous.

So if you are doing anything you want your husband to do, stop doing it.

I remember Katie pulling me aside one time and saying, “I really want you to do _____ in our family, and right now I’m doing it. I’m going to stop doing it in hopes that you will pick it up.” I didn’t start overnight, but I was able to see the importance in something.

I think for a man to lead, he needs to drive the bus of what comes into his home in terms of TV and entertainment, protecting his family on the internet and what is taught spiritually. This does not mean he does it all. In fact, Katie does more of this than I do because she spends more time with the kids, but she looks for me to lead the charge on this.

Protect your family’s schedule. This means you need to make sure date nights and daddy dates are happening, you aren’t involved in too many things and you make sure priorities happen. (Which means if you make baseball practice and scouts more of a priority than church and community for 10 years, don’t be surprised when your kids go to college and leave church. It is not the church’s fault; the onus is on you as a man.)

Women, if your husband isn’t doing this, don’t berate him, don’t send him a link to this (unless you’ve talked about it), don’t hand him a book or tell him there are husbands doing this, so he needs to step up.

Ask God, pray for him, ask God to make him into the man God wants him to be, not the man you want him to be. And stop doing the things God has called him to do, even if that means something might not get done for a time.

Let me end with this. Men often struggle to do something they think they might not be good at, even the real risk-taking adventurous guys. They will take risks at work, but they are often scared to death about failing in front of their wife or kids. This is often the biggest barrier to a man taking the lead at home. This gives the wife a great opportunity to cheer him on and help him succeed.

Too many people do not set their spouse up to succeed. If you want your husband to take the lead at home, instead of nagging him one more time, how could you help him succeed? How could you cheer him on? What is one thing you could do to partner with him in this?