“You Get What You Get and You Don’t Throw a Fit!”

One evening our family was sitting at home for dinner and our 8- year old daughter Emma began to complain about the menu.  Suddenly, our son Andrew, who is 5, blurted out “Emma, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!”  Tammie and I burst out laughing.  This was great wisdom from our son.  We asked him where he heard it, and he said his pre-school teacher taught him the phrase.  Since his teachers work for me, I should have given her a bonus, or at least a Starbuck’s card for imparting such enlightenment upon my son.  As parents, we want our children to be appreciative for what they have rather than be jealous about what they don’t.

The tenth commandment states, “Do not covet,” which is where most of us leave it.  However, the full commandment reads, “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17, NLT).  It is not virtuous to envy others’ success and possessions.  Yet, it is within our selfish human nature to desire what others have, even when we accept that God has chosen to bless another family with more financial resources than us.

In America today, there are politicians, journalists, and other activists, who teach an idealogy that demonizes the successful.  They paint successful Americans with the same broad brush that says they didn’t earn it, cheated their way to the top, and because they are rich others will now be poor.  These are excuses to justify jealousy.

As a parent, there are few things that grate on the nerves more than hearing my child complain about so-and-so’s new Nintendo 3DS or IPhone (why does an elementary kid need an IPhone?  A discussion for another day).  I wonder what God thinks when we whine about what we don’t have and are not grateful for his many blessings?

King David wrote numerous psalms that are called psalms of “thanksgiving” (Psalm 30, 34, 40, 138 and others).  These are prayers to God on behalf of David individually and the nation of Israel thanking God for the gifts He had given them.  I hope we model our prayers in a similar manner, so that they are not filled with selfish requests and complaints, but of thanksgiving and appreciation to the Creator of all that is good.

Trust me, you’ll feel better if you choose to live with an attitude of appreciation rather than jealousy.  But when you encounter those who drive a better car, have a bigger house, and work at a higher-paying job, don’t childishly declare, “that’s not fair!”  We don’t let our kids get away with such whining.  And please remember what we teach the children here at Renton Christian, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!”

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Parents: Teenagers are Capable of Much More

Every adult has an opinion about teenagers, and many of those opinions slant negative.  A good place for Christians to ponder the proper role of teenagers is to examine what the Bible says about them.  What does the Bible say about teenagers?  Absolutely nothing!  The Apostle Paul wrote “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).  Paul simply reflected the culture of his day in which a phase of childhood development called the teenage years didn’t exist.  Did you realize that the term “teenager” did not even enter the American vocabulary until the mid-20th century, in a Reader’s Digest article?  Prior to this point in American history, and throughout many cultures of the world today, there is no such phase of life, as a person is categorized as either a child or an adult.  “Teenager” is a newly-minted term that represents a society that has gone backwards in how it raises children and prepares them for a successful life that contributes to a better world.

A couple of years ago, I came across a book written by twin brothers, Alex and Brett Harris, entitled, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations.  As teenagers they began to realize that the world around them, their teachers and parents especially, did a poor job of preparing them for life as adults, and decided that a “rebelution (rebellion + revolution = rebelution)” needs to take place.  They authored this book and their message and influence have grown ever since.  They assert, and I wholeheartedly agree, that the teenage years (ages 13-19) are not be a vacation from responsibility but a launching pad for life.  But American society today places little to no expectations upon teenagers.  The Harris’ cite an article entitled, “A Parent’s Guide to Survive the Teen Years” which expresses the low bar teenagers are expected to clear.  Here are a few parental expectations this article suggests impressing upon teenagers:

  • Make your bed every day.
  • Clean your room every week.
  • Do a daily chore (just one).
  • Make sure the gas gauge stays above a quarter-tank.

And to top it off, the article encourages parents not to expect teenagers from accomplishing all of them at once!  Is this the pathetic level of expectation we have on our teenagers?  Teenagers who are raised this way end up occupying Wall Street with the rest of their self-entitled, lazy friends.  Brett and Alex would call them “Kidults.”  But it’s not completely their fault.  Parents have failed them and the Kidults don’t know any better.

Do Hard Things contains so many great ideas that it’s difficult to highlight any one or two without leaving out many other insights.  But I will try.  The Harris’ identify one major problem as the “just do your best” trap.  This is a favorite of adults.  This phrase is deceptively disguised as loving and accepting encouragement that doesn’t hurt the fragile emotional state of teenagers.  But teenagers aren’t children and they aren’t as fragile as we think.  When teenagers know that no matter what the result of their effort, they will be told, “at least you did your best,” the results are complacency and just getting by.  Alex and Brett state that this contradicts the heart of a “rebelutionary.”  A rebelutionary pushes oneself to do more than is asked, expected or required by his parent, teacher, or youth pastor.  To illustrate their point, the Harris’ share the stories of three teenagers: George, Clara and David.

George’s parents died when he was eleven.  He mastered geometry, trigonometry and calculus and by 17 earned a job as a surveyor of Culpepper County, Virginia.  He performed this job, often alone, for three years using heavy logs and chains as his measuring tools.  He was a full-fledged man at 17.  Clara nursed small-pox patients and oversaw a class of students when she was 17.   David captained a prize ship at the age of 12!  George Washington, Clara Barton and David Farragut (the first navy admiral and hero in the Civil War) worked hard, accepted responsibility and chose a more difficult path while they were still “teenagers.”  The intense work ethic they cultivated as teenagers developed mental toughness and leadership skills that allowed them to excel later in life.  Developing a strong work ethic is a Godly virtue (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23).

Parents who don’t expect their teenagers to work hard, to feel uncomfortable, or to experience failure, do not prepare them for adulthood when mommy is no longer there to tell them “at least you did your best.”  If a person’s first tough challenges occur in a class from an impossibly hard college professor or a boss who has high expectations, then failure at this point could be devestating.  It’s time for parents to rebel against American culture and raise their teenagers differently.  True parental love is expressed by those who raise the bar of expectation and challenge their teenagers to “do hard things.”  I highly recommend reading the book, and then having your “teenager” read it as well.

Posted in Biblical Worldview, Family | 1 Response

Church is Not Enough

Christian schools have been a part of North America since the early 1600s, basically as soon as Europeans immigrated to the continent.  For over 300 years it was assumed that schools were rooted in the Christian faith.  But things changed dramatically in the 20th-century as secular dogma began to infiltrate school curriculums.  After World War II, as public schools became more secular (prayer and Bibles were removed, for example), Christian schools grew at an exponential rate.  Many recognized the growing need for privately or church-sponsored schools to fill a gap in the spiritual and moral development of students. 

The influence of a school and its teachers cannot be overestimated.  Simply do the math.  Take a student who spends a couple hours per week involved in the church and it’s activities.  At 52 weeks per year over 13 years (Kindergarten-12th grade) that equals 1,352 hours.  But students spend 15,000 hours in school during those same years.  Even students who attend church on a regular basis will spend over 10 times more hours in school than church!  Who has more impact on that kid’s life?  Their youth pastor or their teachers?  And think about how difficult it is for parents of kids who sit in classrooms that teach: there is no God, the Bible is a fairy tale, their lives are no more valuable than a whale or a spotted owl, and they should start having sex whenever it feels right.  Parents and the church have to undo this secular indoctrination over and over again.

There are tangible results to this reality that have been validated in the “Cardus Education Survey,” which is the largest study ever done in this subject area.  According to the summary results, 50% of high school graduates who attend church regularly, but are enrolled in public school, will keep their faith.  While on the other hand, 92.5% of high school graduates who attend church regularly, but are enrolled in a Protestant Christian school from Kindergarten through 12th grade, keep their faith.  Wow!

The president of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), Brian Simmons, discusses the invaluable importance of Christian Schools in his book, Worth It: The 15,000-Hour Decision.  He highlights three institutions given to us by which to disciple and to educate students: the family, the church, and the school.  If one pictures each as a leg in a three-legged stool, then if one is missing the result is a wobbly chair.  Or, a wobbly Christian teenager.

I hope pastors take this to heart.  If a pastor has the ability to start a Christian school, then one should prayerfully consider it.  If a pastor already has a school, then prayerfully consider how to expand it.  The most effective way to disciple students completely is for parents, the church AND school to all be working together to produce the next generation of Christian leaders who will impact the world.  Christian parents and leaders alike must learn history and understand that we are raising children in a secular environment that is hostile to their faith in a way that America did not experience prior to the 20th century.

Church is not enough.  In order for our kids to be developed into all that God created them to be: families must be strong, churches must be strong, AND Christian schools must be strong.  I encourage parents to bring their kids to church on Sundays, teach them right from wrong at home, and enroll them in a Christian school.  This gives them the best chance to raise successful and God-fearing children.  I believe there is a bright future ahead for Christian schools and let’s hope that more and more students will receive the opportunity to be part of it.

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Let’s Raise Our Boys to Become Men

Boys are different than girls.  Wow, what an insight!  Not really.  This is clear to anyone with a little common sense.  Boys seek adventure, battle, and a beauty to rescue.  They prefer video games like “Halo” and “Call of Duty: Black Ops” (and so do I, for that matter!)  They like danger and risk.  God created them that way.  It is a challenge for parents and teachers alike to teach boys to be disciplined, to sit still and to follow directions, without breaking them of their masculinity.  Our world desperately needs boys to grow into strong, powerful, and Godly men.  Yet, too often boys are told that in order to be “good” they must act like girls.

In his book, Wild at Heart, John Eldredge notes that there is a spiritual battle that began long ago in the heavenly realms, and it continues today.  He states, “God has an enemy and so do we.  Man is not born into a sitcom or a soap opera; he is born into a world at war.  This is not Home Improvement; it’s Saving Private Ryan.  There will be many, many battles to fight on many different battlefields.”  When the natural aggression of boys is perverted, men can bully and intimidate, become abusive husbands or genocidal dictators who rule over people with an iron fist.  Or, when boys have their masculine nature suffocated, they can become spineless wimps, afraid to lead, and who feel like they have to make excuses for being male.

The Old Testament hero David exemplified a fine balance between the strength and sensitivity all boys should seek.  He killed a lion with his bare hands when it attacked his sheep (1 Sam. 17:35).  As a teenager, he stood up to Goliath as King Saul cowered in fear in his tent (1 Sam. 17:1-51).  He led armies into battle once he became king (2 Sam. 5:17-25).  He was strong and powerful and protected his family and his nation.  Yet, he was sensitive to the Spirit of God, which is expressed in the beauty of his songs and prayers to God recorded in the Psalms.  For example, David wrote, “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin” (Ps. 17:3).  The balance David found between his authority over a nation and humility before God Almighty are traits each man ought to strive for and parents should instill in their own boys.

Wise parents do not train their boys to become girls, but to become men.  No one said it would be easy!

 

 

 

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School Choice: The Most Important Civil Rights Issue of Our Day?

Parents should have the freedom to choose where their kids attend school.  Unfortunately, the education system in America is under the control of teachers’ unions and government officials.  Unions and politicians assert that they know what is best for your children.  And they claim they could do a better job if they just had more of your money.  Yet, teachers’ unions reject the common-sense and budget-balancing ideas of being able to fire poorly performing teachers without drawn-out legal battles, 401(k) retirement plans rather than bloated and unsustainable pensions, constructing less-expensive school buildings and many, many more.  As a private school administrator, I would love to comb through a government school district budget and figure out why they need so much money!  The government’s claim to need more money for education contradicts the existence of thousands of private schools in America who educate students far better for far less.

What is the answer?  Competition!  But teachers’ unions, in fact, unions of any kind, hate that word and what it stands for.  It means people succeed and keep their jobs based on merit, hard work, and positive results, and not simply because someone pays dues to a union to protect their own turf.

If our goal as Americans is to offer the finest education system in the world we must provide a competitive environment that forces schools to provide a better-quality education and to do so more efficiently.  And top it off by offering parents the choice of where to apply the tax money that they earned.  Parents are smart.  If schools are thrust into competition, then the market will determine which schools succeed and which ones fail.

Finally, it is the poorest Americans who do not have the opportunity to enroll their kids in better schools.  Families in many of America’s urban centers, are held hostage by a government-operated education system that dictates no school choice as the best solution.  It’s almost a bizarre contradiction.  Liberals who shout from the rooftops that they are most concerned about the plight of the poor are the exact same people who reject school choice, who reject charter schools, and who reject voucher initiatives.  Yet, the citizenry in the urban centers of America continue to vote these same people into office!  Should not poor families be granted the right of freedom in education for their children?

One of the leading voices for charter schools and school vouchers is Star Parker who rightly asserts that freedom in education is the civil rights issue of our day.  You can link to one of her insightful articles here: http://www.urbancure.org/article.asp?id=3268&tag=Education.

The school choice movement is gaining momentum in America today.  Please do all you can to support school leaders, politicians, and others in the effort to create a better future for the children of our country.  Let’s place the destiny of our children back where it belongs; into the hands of parents.

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Stop Telling Your Kids They Can Be Anything They Want

What kind of horrible, dream-killer would say something like this to a child?  Please allow me to explain.  As a boy, I had the same dream as many American boys.  I wanted to be a professional basketball player.  The Sonics won the championship when I was in 2nd grade and Jack Sikma was my favorite player.  This really started my interest in basketball.  Even though I had some success as a basketball player growing up, I never had the size, strength and speed required to play in the NBA.  No amount of my parents telling me I was wonderful was going to change that.  When God created me He gave me other gifts and abilities that aligned perfectly with his will for my life.

Sports is an easy arena in which to face reality because of the tangible results.  There are game scores, teams chosen, and lots of measurable statistics of athletic ability.  The inches on one’s vertical leap, bench press weight and reps, and 40-yard time are indisputable facts.  It’s more complicated in everyday life to figure out what one is good at and…where one isn’t gifted.

I believe it creates a lot of stress and pressure on a child, teenager or even an adult when they feel it is up to them alone to determine the course of their life.  God doesn’t expect us to bear this burden alone.  He created us and has a wonderful plan for each of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).  As parents we need to help our children discover and develop those God-given gifts.

Please don’t teach your kids they can be anything they want for this won’t lead to true happiness in this life.  Instead teach them to discover what God has created them to be.  This will keep their eyes on their relationship with God instead of comparing themselves with those around them.  When people measure themselves against others, they will never measure up.  But when they seek to meet God’s will in their lives, they can rest in the assurance that God’s gifts are sufficient.

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Welcome to My Blog!

I am excited to embark on this voyage of blogging.  I will lay low for a while as I get this operation up and running.  The theme that will thread it’s way throughout this blog is my dedication to a biblical worldview.  I am not the first one to converse about this topic, nor am I the best, but I am one of a choir of educators, clergy, parents, and others who find it important to connect what the Bible instructs and what we believe with how we think about everyday matters.

The topics about which I will write articles and provide links will address matters about which American Christians are concerned.  The goal is for these topics to have practical relevance to one’s daily life.  I will spend a lot of time connecting biblical concepts to life today.  This is not something new.  It is basically what the Apostle Paul did in his letters to the first generation of Christians so long ago.  While Paul spent time explaining the tenets of the Gospel message, he also dedicated considerable space to teaching about a true Gospel “worldview.”  This made sense as the first Christians had unending questions about how to connect their faith in Jesus Christ, as Savior and Messiah, to everyday thoughts and behavior.  It’s almost funny to me how Christians whine to no end about how “secular” the world is today and how hard it is to be a Christian in a society that is becoming increasingly hostile toward them.  Really?  The Apostle Paul and the original Christians had a much tougher environment in which to live and they impacted the world forever.

Over time, expect articles and topics of conversation to include education, religion, politics, parenting, money and a variety of other areas about which Christians must think biblically in order for they and their families to live life to the fullest.

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