I get asked by parents a lot how to make media choices with and for their kids. What shows should they watch, what music should they listen to. Here are some helpful questions for parents to ask taken from Give them Grace.
Does this media outlet have any redeeming value to it? In other words, is there any way that we can use it to illustrate the one good story? Are the great themes of the gospel apparent (even though it may not be a “Christian” production)?
Are our children unduly influenced by this movie or program? Do they mimic inappropriate words or phrases after spending time interacting with it?
Are our children able to articulate what is lacking in this video or song? Do they see how it is contrary to the gospel? Are they able to tell you where they see the one good story in it?
What is your child’s attitude when he’s denied access to this program? Has it become an idol in his heart, a god that promises him happiness?
Is there any way that you can demonstrate a willingness to compromise with your child over this song? For instance, instead of saying no to an entire album, perhaps you could find a couple of songs on it that would be acceptable.
Are you being ruled by fear of what might happen if your child watches or listens to this program or album? Or, are you able to think clearly about the influence the entertainment may or may not have over your child?
A question that gets thrown around a lot is “how do you build _______ culture into your church?” That could be a gospel culture, evangelism, hospitality, discipleship. Pick the hot button church word and it has been discussed. Or personally, “how do I change ______ in my life and see it stay that way?”
I was reading through Psalm 51 this morning and a verse I’ve read over multiple times jumped out to me. After David gets done confessing his sin, asking for God’s grace and forgiveness, in verse 13 he says, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” What will David teach? He will teach them God’s ways. But what ways? The ways of grace, forgiveness, justice, the gospel. The only way David can teach them this though is because David knows it, he has experienced it. Then, and only then, does he teach it.
I think many people make a mistake in trying to teach a culture or teach the gospel simply in a head knowledge sort of way. David was teaching the gospel, grace, forgiveness, compassion, justice and mercy from the perspective of I’ve experienced this. It is easier to simply say, “The gospel is _______” without knowing it, without experiencing it in your own life.
When we speak from a place of “I’m walking through this in my own life right now” it creates a humility in how we speak. It brings a compassion to our voice as leaders. I think there is something to the brokenness and humility David was showing and how he could say with confidence, “sinners will return to you.”
I’ve been reading a lot about the inner life of leaders recently. It is great to have the tools of how to cast vision, build teams and lead things, but if your character falls apart, if you aren’t able to handle conflict, criticisms, setbacks, etc. it can destroy your leadership. Recently I’ve been hearing about a number of leaders who have been falling out leadership because of sin, stress, burnout and I want to finish well. Reggie McNeal writes about this better than anyone I’ve seen. You can read my review of one of his other books Practicing Greatness here.
In A Work of Heart, he takes a similar track as Practicing Greatness. In this one though, he looks at Moses, David, Jesus and Paul to see how God shaped their hearts, their inner lives to make them the leaders they are.
According to McNeal, when a leader loses heart, he loses. When a leader does not lose heart, he becomes a champion, not a victim.
He looked at:
Family of origin and where they came from.
The call on their lives, why they are here.
Community, how they connected with others around them.
Communion, how they related to God.
Conflict, how they deal with criticism, those who difficult to lead.
And the commonplaces of their world, the ordinary things we often miss in terms of shaping our lives.
Here are a few things that jumped out:
Leaders are driven by causes and willing to personally risk involvement.
The leader is an instrument in the Lord’s hand to help others have the opportunity to live their lives with greater significance and in relationship with God.
The cauldron of conflict shapes the heart of the leader. Each instance forces a redefinition of the leader’s mission, values, and actions.
Leaders content that their life could not be understood apart from their call. The call provides them with their life direction. It informs their decisions by reorienting their priorities and establishing a new set of core values. The call provides a content that becomes their life message.They would not be who they are without it.
Leaders who give their best efforts to their current assignments from God are prepared for their next level of influence.
Leaders become leaders, in part, because they are willing to wrestle with who they are, who they want to become, how they can overcome some deficit in their own lives.
Leaders who create team figure out how to empower others, literally giving power away.