Archives For kindness

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I really need to help my children think more about themselves and their own needs…

…said no parent. Not even one!

Selfishness seems hardwired into the flesh at birth. From the moment of our first breath, we struggle to get someone to recognize-and-meet-our-needs.

Sharing, generosity and selflessness are character traits that must be developed. As parents, we need our children to come to Christ if we are to see true progress in conquering the self-absorption. He alone can give them a true heart of love.

But we, as parents, can co-labor with the Lord to help prepare our children for lives of effective service for Him both in their future families and in their future lives of work and ministry.

Cultivating selflessness takes focus. Especially in a world obsessed with selfies and personal autonomy. :)

I wrote this list today as much for myself as for you! What else have you found that has helped stamp out the selfishness in your home? Comment below, or message me on Facebook with your thoughts!

1. Set the example
Folks, we reproduce after our own kind. If our kids see our own self-centered needs dominating the home....well, what do we expect?  (Ouch!)

2. Cut the electronics & encourage group encounters
Does anyone else remember the concept of a family room? You know, that place where we all sat together to rest, refresh and recreate?? Surely our own personal electronics have wrecked this concept and turned us even more inward. What about pulling everyone out of their own worlds and back to some face to face interactions?

3. Praise selfless acts of service
It is so easy to criticize and correct. But words of affirmation and praise are far more effective in adjusting human perspectives and behaviors. Acknowledging someone’s loving kindness in front of others scores the biggest effectiveness of all. "Matthew, I was so blown away by your helpfulness when Josiah lost his shoes. Thanks for getting us out of a jam, son!"

4. Get involved in volunteer service
Nothing pulls us out of ourselves quicker than seeing the bigger needs of others. Perspectives are adjusted at a soup kitchen and on the mission field. But even less dramatic places can help cultivate the attitudes we all need. Lawn care and stuffing envelopes without pay may actually pay more than money can buy.

5. Create a culture of giving
At our home we celebrate birthdays and special events by encouraging gift giving . Now with a family as large as ours, the gifts may not be lavish or extravagant. But that is not the point. A candy bar gift from a teen who chose to skip his own friend's event and come to his sibling's birthday or graduation or post sports victory party says "you are more important than me."

6. Take care of the aged as well as children

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 1 Timothy 5:4

In our modern era where the elderly are often abandoned or ignored, we missing are a central key to our own personal development. Serving the needs of the aged as well as the cute, cuddly children is just what the Lord prescribes!

7. Provide role models
Somehow the pictures and headlines of the rich and famous on the front of People are not exuding an attitude of selflessness to our kids (or us!) We must get creative to aim our family for something different than a Dancing with the Stars version of "success." How about focusing on some true heroes like Corrie Ten Boom, Hudson Taylor, Florence Nightingale, and William Wilberforce? Our families need books and movies that cast our sight to God's version of success.

8. Travel in the same car
This might not apply to all of us. But for some of us with multiple vehicles please note how independent and self-seeking we all get when we set our own personal arrival and departure schedules on our o-w-n w-h-i-m-s and desires. (Hey, why should I help my brother find his shoe if I can just head out without the fuss!)

9. Family meals
This one is obvious. Are we all making our own personal pan pizzas or sitting around the table passing the dishes and then cleaning up afterward together with a smile?

10.  Chores
We do a lot of chores at our house. (We have to or we could not survive!) But even if mom and/or dad can do it all, it does not mean they should. Living in a family means serving each other. Even if you are not the one who tracked in the mud.

11. Point out the selfishness
When I need to, I pull one of my kids aside and point out repetitive problems of self-centered yuck. I try to be sensitive to my timing to this. Obviously, certain stages of development are more prone to self-absorption. However, it does no one any favor to leave them stuck on themselves and locked into their own personal world of torture. Because actually, selfishness is rather miserable.

12. Family prayer time
"God, we lift up each one of our family members to You today. We pray Your richest blessing on their lives. Help us to serve one another in love today. Help us to be patient with each others' weaknesses and kind when things don't go our way. We love You, Lord, and choose to die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow you today. Amen."

I believe number 12 is our best hope. How about you!?

Image: Lynn Friedman “Teens Together Staring At Their Cell Phones” via Flickr Creative Commons
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Yesterday one of my kids suffered a real setback and disappointment.

As I watched him struggle through the pain, I wanted desperately to find a way to fix it. But....that was not to be.

Don't you just hate it when your kids are in pain? Wouldn't you join me in wishing that the problems in this fallen world would not touch those that we love?

As I was carefully selecting what I should say to ease his pain, it struck me the potential weight my words could carry.

Parents, we hold an amazing responsibility in stewarding over our children's young lives.

Our words can frame their world for success and hope....or cut them to failure and despair.

Sometimes in the "big events" like I experienced yesterday we are keenly aware of this power. But what about the everyday moments that are not so monumental?

Today, I am challenging myself to identify key phrases that are too dangerous to ever utter. Here are my first top 3 that come to mind:

3 Things We Should Never Say to Our Kids:

1. You always do…   Watch out for the absolute declarations. Our kids are still in process! God would never say that about us!

2. You never do...   This is a mirror image of number 1. And it is not helpful either!

3. Why can't you be more like your brother/sister?   Comparison is so deadly. Check out 2 Corinthians 10:12.

What would you add to this list?

I love this little article from John Trent that helps us replace those old, bad phrases with words of affirmation that can nourish our kids' hearts.

Image: bies “R is probably studying some insect again...”  via Flickr Creative Commons
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I love it when science proves God's word is true. Even in the area of relationships.

One of our frontline moms sent me this article today: (Thanks, Gretchen!)

Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

It is absolutely fantastic. Kindness and generosity are the secrets to lasting love.

Please read this article for yourself and then send it on to your children. This is the kind of training material we need to get to them before they're married!

Here is a list of scriptures that backs up why these researchers found this to be true:

Colossians 3:12   Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Ephesians 4:32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Proverbs 3:3  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

Ephesians 5:28  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:33  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Proverbs 27:15–16  A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.

Proverbs 22:9  A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

Proverbs 11:24-25  One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


Image: Khánh Hmoong “Happy Feet Friday!” via Flickr Creative Commons
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