Leadership Lesson: Your family is the priority no matter what you do.

ImageI have the tendency to be a workaholic. The truth be known, I like to work. I like to accomplish things. I like to get things done. I’m willing to devote the time needed to get something done right and produce excellent results.  I’ve been this way my whole life. So, when I was in the Army as a young man, I would arrive to work early and leave for home late. That meant there were many days when my young children might not see me because I was out of the house before they were up and I returned after they went to bed. Needless to say, that was not very good for our home life. It’s difficult to invest in and influence your children, when you’re not there.

I had a boss once, Fred Stubbs, who was a very wise man.  He was a great family man. He had a wonderful wife, Ilene, and two beautiful teenage daughters, Bethany and Penny. One evening while I was working late, he surprised me and stopped by my office.  He asked me about work. I told him what was happening and what I was working on. Then as he was getting ready to leave he said to me, “John, the Army will be here in 20 years and you’re likely not to be in the Army, but what you do now will determine if your wife and children are with you or not.” Kaboom!! I got the message.  I began a process of change where I put my family first and my work second.

The results of me purposely putting family considerations before my work have been pretty significant. I am retired from the Army and my wife is still with me. We celebrated our thirty-first wedding anniversary two weeks ago.  My children grew up knowing that I loved them.  I got to enjoy putting them to bed most nights; reading to them and saying their prayers with them. Although our children are grown and out of the house, our family remains close. I’ve been truly blessed. As an aside, Fred and Ilene Stubbs recently celebrated their fifty-second wedding anniversary.

How about you? Remember in 20 years, you probably won’t be with the company you’re with now. You may make a lot of money working late, but will your family still be with you? It’s your decision.

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Are You Smarter Than A Four-Year-Old?

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I was reading the book, If You Have a Hat; a Silly Rhyming Picture Book, by Gerald Hawksley, to my four-year-old granddaughter, Logan.  It’s a book very similar to the Dr. Suess Cat in the Hat books that I read years ago. She listened attentively as I read the book.  As I read, I asked her, “Do you see how the words rhyme?”  She didn’t get it at first.  But, then I showed her how mouse rhymed with house and how race rhymed with face and she got it. Now, her brother, Brody, is only two and he just didn’t want to sit and listen. He certainly wasn’t at the point in his life where he’d understand what a rhyme was.

As I had time to reflect on reading the book to her, I realized it must be the same way with us as we read God’s Word and our Heavenly Father teaches us. If you’ve read God’s Word regularly, you know that sometimes you read the same verse on one occasion that you’ve read many times and all of a sudden something jumps out at you; a word or an idea, that you never got when reading that verse before. That’s God teaching you “how the words rhyme.” Rather, He’s showing you something that you didn’t get before in that verse; a new truth or insight that you didn’t understand before. Now, you’re at a point in your life when you can get it. Before, if He showed it to you, you just didn’t get it.

To me, that adds a whole new insight into Jesus’s words, Luke 18:17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” When you approach reading God’s Word you must realize that the creator of the universe, the all-knowing God is trying to teach you. In many ways it like a grandfather, with many more years of education and experience trying to teach a four-year-old. We’ve got to really pay attention to what He’s trying to say. He’s showing us how the “words rhyme,” so we can understand what He’s trying to say to us at the place and time we are right now in our lives.

When you approach God Word, the Bible, try listening like a four-year-old. Allow Him to teach you. Be open to hearing and learning and applying His Word to your life.

I’d love to hear what God is teaching you right now. Would you please comment below and let me know?

Why did St. Peter carry a sword?

A thought has intrigued me for a while. I wondered, why was St. Peter caring sword? If you remember, the night the Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane and the soldiers came to arrest him, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of a slave. John 18:10-11 (NIV) 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

If you look more into the text, you see that among Jesus’ disciples there were two swords. That means two of his twelve disciples, Peter and another were carrying swords. I just wonder why they were carrying swords? I mean think about it, there is a God of the universe, he’s right there with them, and they are carrying swords. And to top it off Jesus does not correct or rebuke them for it. He does not opposed it. He knew they were carrying swords.

ImageNow they were likely carrying a Roman short sword. This is not necessarily the battle sword, but a sword for self-defense. So in modern-day vernacular, they would’ve been carrying a handgun. I guess in many respects, it makes sense that they were carrying a weapon. I mean, these were guys who travel for their ministry. They were out on the road quite a bit. The roads were very dangerous. There were criminals, thieves, and marauders out on the roads. It was unsafe. There also were wild animals around the roads in the countryside and the swords would’ve been very handy for self-defense.

It seems to me that Jesus is okay with the person defending and taking care of himself or herself and their family. In fact we’re emplored to care for our family and part of that care is defending them when their safety is threatened. The Scriptures say, 1 Timothy 5:4, 8 (NIV) 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….8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I’ve been reading through the entire Bible this year on Youversion.  I’m using a reading plan that is somewhat chronological.  There came a time in the history of God’s chosen people that they rebelled against God.  They worshiped idols of the nations that surrounded them.  Part of the practice of worshipping idols was sacrificing to those idols.  One of the idols was named Molech, the god of fire.  God’s people began sacrificing their first born children to the fire god by burning them alive in a religious ceremony.  Can you imagine?  How gross!  How detestable.  No wonder God was mad at them and allowed his judgment against them.

Very few things get me angrier than when people abuse the innocence of a child.  I completely understand God’s judgment against these people.  It just ticks me off thinking they threw their children in fire!

Children have a special place in God’s heart.  The Scripture say, Matthew 19:14-15 (NLT) 14 But Jesus said “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. It is true, “Jesus loves the little children.”

Now-a-days, at least in the U.S., we would never sacrifice children to an idol.  We’re far too civilized.  That may happen in backward countries, but never in the U.S.  Really?   I’ve been shocked recently by some of the things that have happened to children at the hands of their parents.  One boy was left to bake in a car when his mom apparently was high and forgot him in the car while she slept.  She realized after about 6 hours that he was in the car.   The child was sacrificed to the gods of drugs and pleasure.

I read an article this morning of a mom who starved her 4 year old.  The child weighed only 15 pounds when authorities found her.   Her mom is a drug addict.  She spends her money of drugs instead of food for her child.  These children were sacrificed to the gods of selfishness and pleasure.

People in the U.S. have tried to sell their children for sex so they could buy more drugs.  These children sacrificed to the god of pleasure.

We have about one million children aborted in the U.S. each year.  These children sacrificed to the god of convenience and sex.

We have become so self absorbed that we no longer protect our children; we  hurt our children.  They are precious and we must value them like God does.  If we don’t we deserve a harsh judgment.

Love your children.  Protect their innocence.  Protect the innocent, the weak, the needy.

Join the Revolution

At least one of my ancestors that I know of fought in the American Revolution.  Edward Beeson was a Captain in the North Carolina militia and fought at the battle of Guilford County Courthouse in North Carolina.  I recently read a book on that battle, Guilford Courthouse: Nathanael Greene’s Victory In Defeat, March 15, 1781.  I really enjoyed reading it and just trying to imagine what my ancestor went through.  After the war, he moved to Alabama and eventually one of his great granddaughters married my grandfather and the rest is all history.

In the book, they showed a monument to another North Carolina Militia captain who had fallen in the battle.  My bet is that he has no great grandson writing a blog today.  It got me thinking about how important family is and what an effect one person has on the generations that follow them.

Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs we have, but one of the most important.  It is so easy to get lost in the day to day grind of life that we can miss the important opportunities we have to effect our kids and future generations.  I’ve known parents who’ve allowed the stress of job, finances and children to distract them from the intentionality of investing in their children. They’ve wished their childrens’ childhood away.  Have you ever thought, “I can’t wait till summer is over and they go back to school.  I need them out of my hair.  I need a break.”?

I recently read the story of Jonadab, son of Recab (Jeremiah 35).  He had such an influence on his family that for generations afterward just because of his influence his family did not drink wine and lived in tents instead of buildings.  What an impact!  I’ve known families that have struggled with alcoholism because of an alcoholic parent, but have you ever heard of someone effecting their family not to drink? For generations?  This guy effected his family positively.  (NOTE: This is not meant to be a commentary on the pros and con of drinking alcoholic beverages, just the impact one parent can have on the generations that follow).

Take it from someone who knows, you’re kids will be gone before you know it.  Don’t wish their childhood away.  Be an intentional parent.  Intentionally teach them your values.  Spend time with them.  Learn to enjoy every moment you have with them.  Because if you don’t, they will know what you value and it won’t be them.  When they grow up they’ll pass that on to their children too.

Look, you are going to effect future generations one way or another, chose to do it positively.  Teach them godly values and that God values them.  Be revolutionary by valuing your time and influence on your children.

By the way, if you’re single, join the revolution.  You too can effect future generations.  Some of the people who effected my life in a positive way were single.  It is in part because of the time they spent investing in me that I am who I am.

We all need to work together to positively impact future generations.  Join the revolution.