10 Qualities of a Good Dad

Ten(1)The other day, I was on Facebook and saw a picture of “Will” with his daughter.  I felt so proud!  Will is a good husband and dad.  I have great respect for him.

Being a dad may be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Yes, it has been joyful. However, it has been difficult at times.  I had (and have) a lot to learn.

Even as I write these words, I can envision a number of guys in the Central Texas area who are doing such a good job as “daddy.”  The guys I have in mind are in their 30s and 40s.  They continue to grow and learn.  Some had good models growing up and some didn’t.  Regardless, these guys have worked hard toward becoming good dads.

The following are some qualities of a good daddy:

1.  A good daddy is consistent.  Children get confused when a certain behavior causes dad to laugh one moment only to cause him to become angry thirty minutes later.

2.  A good daddy models good character.  Teaching a child is important.  Good character that is modeled is powerful. However, bad character on display can make a lasting impression as well. When we lived in Kansas City many years ago, I heard our neighbor scream at his daughter one day.  (She was about about six years old.)  What he called his daughter was awful!  I have wondered what this child, now 26 or 27 years of age, must remember about her home life.

3.  A good daddy teaches his children by his example.  Some fathers do far too much telling and too little showing.  A mountain of good words does not compensate for a regular bad example. However, when a father models integrity, respect, and kindness before his children, they are blessed.

4.  A good daddy allows his children the opportunity to see his faith.  For example, when you are faced with a decision, it can be a real teachable moment for that son or daughter to hear you explain why you made the decision you did and how that decision flowed out of your faith.

5.  A good daddy understands that “fussing” at a child, naming calling, or threatening is not discipline.  Such behaviors may be more about a father’s own frustration and anger than serious, intentional discipline.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start_button_gifI was home with the flu last week.  (I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!)  There were a few sites that I stumbled upon while I was out.  You may find these helpful (below).  I also finished Wayne Muller’s book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives and Ian Paul and David Wenham’s Preaching from the New Testament. Finally, do you read “How I Work” which appears at lifehacker.com each week? This is a great series.  I read each one.

This may help

Note the recent New York Times Article, “If You Want to Meet That Deadline, Play a Trick on Your Mind.”  The title alone caught my eye.  Interesting piece on ways to manipulate your perception of time which can actually help you meet your goal.


Ann Handley wrote a good piece on creativity based on a video by Sir Ken Robinson.  One particular sentence stuck with me from her post:  “…creative people know that creativity finds expression in many ways.”  Creative people, regardless of what they do for a living, look for different ways to do what needs to be done.


See this interesting post by Oliver Burkeman, “Why We Tell Strangers Our Secrets.”  Also note the article in Harvard Magazine “Choosing Confidents” based on the same research.


See Shane Parish’s post “The Decision-Maker: A Tool for a Lifetime.” (I realize there is something to be said about spiritual discernment which really isn’t discussed in this article.  However, I still find these kinds of posts interesting and even helpful.)


Fight Back With Joy (Margaret Feinberg)

JoyMargaret Feinberg is a fine author. I have read two of her books and was blessed by both. She has been through a difficult fight with cancer. In her most recent book  Fight Back With Joy, she shares the unexpected lessons she discovered along the way.

Margaret speaks of a defiant joy, a joy that is not disqualified by life’s difficulties and one’s sufferings. All too often, joy is reduced to something that one experiences when things are going well. Consequently, when life is relatively smooth and God’s power and presence are evident in our lives, we may speak of our appreciation for the joy that we are experiencing. Of course, this joy is a gift from God and is very real. Yet, what happens to joy when one is going through a difficult time, a time of pain and suffering? Where is joy when the one closest to you betrays you? Where is joy when you learn that you have a dreaded disease?

What I appreciate about Margaret’s book is that she has written it during one of the most difficult times of her life.  She reminds of the great circumstances that we are experiencing as believers, the abundant grace and mercy of God.  She speaks with vulnerability and with a desire to glorify God through the most difficult season of her life.

This book deserves to be read widely.  Many men and women who are dealing with pain and turmoil will be blessed by this book.  (You can purchase it from Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here.)

When People are Impulsive

making-your-own-decisionsIt is true.

Some people are slow to decide and slow to act.

Some groups are so afraid of making a mistake, they miss opportunity after opportunity to make a difference.

Some churches are so bogged down in committees they rarely take action.

There are some people, however, who seem to act impulsively with little thought.

Some people are impulsive with their words.  They say what they think and appear to have no filter.  Feelings are hurt and damage is done.

Some people are impulsive with money.  They spend first and think about their purchases later.

Some people are impulsive in their ministries.  In a sermon, a preacher suddenly makes a few unplanned, ill-timed remarks.  Is the Spirit prompting this?  Perhaps.  Yet, sometimes these remarks may be the product of impulsiveness.

Some churches are impulsive.  They have no real process for anything.  Consequently, the leaders frustrate the members of their congregations.

1.  A team of ministers and a group of elders discussed making a change that would impact the church.  They decided to sell their present building and move to another location.  They discussed this among themselves  for months.  Then one Sunday, they made an announcement regarding their decision to make this change.  There was tremendous push back which actually baffled the leadership group.  They could not figure out why people in the congregation seem agitated.  Yet, there was absolutely no process.

2.  One Sunday, a minister preaches a particularly difficult sermon.  He has been thinking about a particular passage and subject for the last two years.  He has reached a few conclusions about the interpretation of one particular Scripture that is quite different from what many in his congregation have heard before.  He preaches this sermon and later seems surprised at the questions being raised by a number of people who are deeply involved in the life of the church.  The reaction was not what he expected.  His response?  “I thought people here would be more open to God’s Word.”  Yet, he has been thinking about this subject for two years.  Those who heard the sermon had 25 minutes to process his thoughts.

3.  A group of church leaders decide to make some major changes to the congregation’s Sunday school.  This decision was made after the leadership team talked about the matter in a few elders’ meetings.  Yet, there was no real process involved.  The decision will impact teachers, Sunday school supervisors, children, visitors, and others.  Yet no one bothered to talk with other these people before it was announced.

Some people and some churches are anything but impulsive.  They can be paralyzed with indecision, frustrating their families and their congregations.  Yet, some individuals and some leadership groups are much too quick to send someone to a microphone to make an announcement before doing the necessary hard work to process a possible decision.

Impulsive individuals and impulsive churches can move quickly.  Yet, long after the action is taken, they must now spend an enormous amount of time and energy cleaning up.

Neither indecision or impulsivity get an individual, group, or church very far down the road.  There are no shortcuts.  Determining the best process for a decision and then following through may actually get one down the road more quickly.

Want to Make a Difference? (9 truths about ministry)

nineThe following are a few basic but critical realities of ministry.

1.  Good thinking and good practice matter.  Those who work with churches are sometimes challenged on both fronts. What we do with the text matters. How we think theologically matters.

2.  We serve out of our identity in Christ. What we know is important. Content is critical. However, my identity is rooted in Jesus. I am not foremost a leader, a vice president of a seminary, or a preacher.  Before anything else, I am a follower of Jesus.

Last year, I began a new ministry at Harding School of Theology. When I took on this role, I didn’t suddenly become brilliant or more important than any other Christian servant.  It is just a different form of ministry. What is at the core of any Christian ministry is how you are allowing your ministry to be used to shape you into someone more Christ-like.

I Am Not Worthy

Worthy-Main-StarsShe sat outside our auditorium.  She sat in a folding chair, practically doubled over as if she was in pain.  She rocked and rocked.  Little did I know that she had a gun in her purse.

She was deeply troubled.  She had been an alcoholic for many years. That night her eyes were bloodshot. I presumed she had been drinking.  I approached her just before our worship service began. She said that she wanted to remain outside the auditorium in the hallway.

“I am not worthy.”

How to Begin a New Year (2)

new-year-countdown-2015In the last few weeks, I have been thinking about the New Year.  This is a great time for review, reflection, and being intentional about one’s actions.  One dimension that I want to consider as I begin the new year is my relationships with various people.  When Jesus spoke about the two greatest commandments, he said that what was front and center was loving God and loving people.

As I reflect upon the previous year, I want to consider my relationships with various people:

  • my spouse
  • my children
  • my mom and dad
  • my friends
  • my neighbors
  • my co-workers
  • my employer
  • my fellow church members
  • my extended family

It is very easy to get accustomed to behaving in certain ways toward another even though such behavior may be manipulative, self-serving, and destructive.  At the very least, such behavior can violate the spirit of what it means to love.  It can violate the teachings of Jesus.   Yet, we may become numb and callous to what we are doing.

A number of years ago, I watched an exchange between two people that made me feel very uncomfortable.  There was no argument.  No heated words.  None of that.  In fact, during this exchange both men were smiling and the conversation was pleasant.  What was disheartening was to see one of these men act one way in the other’s presence and then see how he spoke about the other man in his absence.  He made derogatory and insulting remarks about the other man.  He questioned the other man’s intelligence and belittled him in a variety of ways.  This was always done in the other’s absence, never in his presence.

I thought about my own words and behavior.  Do I live, speak, and behave with integrity toward others?

This is my point.  I don’t want to live from one year to the next without thinking about my relationships.  I don’t want to be on autopilot and never give serious thought to the way I behave toward others.  This is not just a matter of eliminating negative behavior.  Rather, I want to think about practical ways to express love toward some significant people in my life.

What do you think?  What would you add to this as you think about your own life?   


Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start_button_gifThe following are eight of my favorite podcasts.  (None of these are sermon podcasts.  I do listen to sermon podcasts but do not listen to any one preacher regularly.)

1.  Beyond the To Do List (Erik Fischer).  Interview format.  Practical and often provides me with a few ideas for improving the way I work.

2.  The Exchange (Ed Stetzer).  Conversation with various guests each week.  Stetzer asks these guests very good questions related to faith, ministry, etc.

3.  Pray-as-you-go.  A daily podcast that is often very helpful to me as I begin my day.

4.  Read to Lead Podcast (John Dumas).  Interview format.  Typically interviews authors of books related to leadership, productivity, etc.

5.  Unbelievable?  Typically this podcast is a discussion between two thinkers regarding some aspect of faith.

6.  This is Your Life (Michael Hyatt).  This helpful podcast is about leadership, productivity, and social media.  Very helpful.

7.  The Emotionally Healthy Leader (Peter Scazzero).  A podcast that says much about systems as well as the spiritual disciplines.

8.  The Portfolio Life (Jeff Goins).  Good material regarding writing and productivity.

How I Begin a New Year (1)

2015I have always enjoyed beginning the New Year.

This is a time in which I consider my life, my direction, and my future.  The New Year is a time for reflecting on my walk with God, the condition of my heart, and my habits.

Without such a practice, it is far too easy to minimize bad habits and ignore the obvious faults in one’s own life.

You may be a mother or father.  You may be married or single.  You may be a schoolteacher, a medical technician, or a homemaker.  Regardless, there is something very useful about reflecting on the previous year.  Without reflection, one can easily continue patterns and habits that are ineffective at best and may even be destructive.

I find it useful to examine the center of my life.  My intent is for the center of my life to be Jesus Christ, Son of God.  I want to begin with the center and then examine some of various components of my life.  I ask questions that invite reflection on some of my primary relationships.  For example:

  • Are there significant people with whom I am experiencing conflict?
  • What is the condition of my relationship with my spouse?  Is my spouse being built up and encouraged in our marriage?
  • How will my children speak of my relationship with them when they are adults?  How will they remember life with me as their dad or mom?  Was I nurturing and encouraging?  Or, will my children remember me as difficult?

At some point during this process, I want to think about 2015.  What kind of person do I want to become this year?  What does God desire for me to become?

If I wish to grow in a certain area or if I wish to address a neglected area of my life, what will need to happen?

Perhaps this series will be useful to you.  Maybe in some way, it will spur you to act as you begin the New Year.

10 Ways to End 2014

year-end-review-300x225The following are a few suggestions that you might find helpful.  Ending and starting a new year is something that I typically give a lot of thought to.

1.  I need to let some things go.  No one ever became more Christ-like through resentment.

2.  I need to be honest about my sin.  I need to be honest both with God and with others about my sin.  My failure to deal with my sin is a failure to deal with the reality of my life.

3.  I need to think about what others see in me and compare that with what others might not see but nevertheless exists in my heart.

4.  I need to deal with the habits I have accumulated over the past year.  Have I taken on habits that are not good or wholesome?  If I continue to practice these habits, what kind of person will I be one year from now.

5.  I need to take into account how I have changed or haven’t changed over the past year.  Are my friends concerned about my marriage or relationship with my children?  Has a friend approached me with concern about my behavior or my attitude?

6.  I need to acknowledge my plans.  What is in my heart regarding the future?  Do I fantasize about a future with someone else besides my spouse?  Am I planning something ungodly?

7.  I need to evaluate my health.  What about my sleep habits, my eating, and my exercise?  Do my habits and behaviors in these areas reflect the heart of one who wishes to honor God with his/her body?

8.  I need to pray about my year that it might be clear to me what areas of my life might be out of God’s will or in someway might displease him.

9.  I need to reflect on my relationships.  Is there a family member with whom I need to reconcile with?  Could a word from me restore my relationship with that person?  Could it be that an apology is long overdue?

10.  I need to ponder on the areas of my life that have not been surrendered to Jesus.  Are there clearly areas of my life where I have refused to allow Jesus to rule as Lord?