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A Ditch And A Shovel

  • Posted on: 25 April 2016
  • By: Keith Reed

The Transform Conference is over, but I’m still processing many ideas and phrases that I heard nine days ago. Here are four concepts that are still echoing in my head:

A Ditch and a Shovel

Chris Price began his teaching by providing an image for raising up gospel-loving kids. It went something like this: Imagine that God has given you a shovel and that He has asked you to dig a ditch in the life of your child. A ditch in which the love of God and the truth of Scripture can readily flow. And the deeper you dig that ditch, the harder it will be for them to get out of it and the easier it will be for them to fall back in.

A child may try to climb out of the ditch. A child may teeter on the edge of the ditch and spend time exploring the area above the ditch’s valley. A parent really can’t control these things. But a parent can choose to keep their hands on the shovel. And a parent can keep digging and keep praying.

“You love me”

Chris’s prayer is that whenever his kids think of him, their first response will be, “You love me.” Regardless of the beliefs or the behaviour that his children may develop, he wants this to be the foundation of their identity as his children. The experience of unconditional love is what will they will remember when they are later faced with the pluralistic idea that biblical teaching is harmful or unloving. The love of their father will keep pointing them to the Author of Truth. 

Guilt is a poor motivator

In theory, I understand the difference between character development and behaviour modification. But in practice, I find that I spend a lot of time explaining the cause-and-effect principle to my children.

Chris concluded one of his sessions with a powerful statement. “Guilt is a poor motivator; love is a lasting one.”The gospel turns our feelings of guilt into signposts of God’s grace and mercy. Trust the power of the gospel in your parenting.

We reproduce what we are

The Question Great Leaders Choose To Ask

  • Posted on: 11 April 2016
  • By: Keith Reed

Great leaders ask great questions. They seek feedback from their team before making decisions. In fact, they value feedback so much that they pursue it even though they might hear something they don’t like.

I listened to an Andy Stanley leadership podcast several months ago that provided me with a valuable question that leaders can use in virtually any setting. It can be applied by a youth sponsor, a hockey coach, a parent, or a senior pastor. 

The question was developed by Clay Scroggins and it emerged from two observations he made. Here’s a summary:  

Everyone has an opinion

People want to feel heard. But notice that listening is different than implementing. Most people know it’s not reasonable for their boss to implement all of their ideas, but it makes a tremendous difference when leaders actively listen to the ideas that others have. It provides the team with confidence that their leader is aware of their perspective and it gives everyone value. 

Everyone has an opinion. Don’t you think it would be valuable to know what your teammates are already thinking? 

We live in the evaluation-age 

Social media is proof that people are quick to evaluate others. Even if evaluation isn’t a stated value in your setting, you can be assured that people have an opinion of your leadership and effectiveness. Your actions are constantly being assessed by the people around you (moms and dads might be the biggest victims here!). If you don’t give others space to share the criticisms they have of you, they’ll either share them when you’re not around or keep their thoughts bottled up inside. Neither option is healthy. 

This brings us to the question that great leaders should choose to ask of their team: If you were me, what would you do differently? 

This question invites open-ended feedback while encouraging others to consider the position that the leader is in. Plus, when leaders open themselves up to the opinions of others, it makes it far easier for them to act on what they hear. Asking this question with regularity will develop a culture of healthy evaluation and constructive team-building. 

Most leaders don’t want to receive feedback, but every leader needs it. I encourage you to begin posing this question to the people you are currently leading. 

- Keith Reed

Your Best Season Of Life

  • Posted on: 30 March 2016
  • By: Keith Reed

My wife and I sometimes wonder what we spent our time doing before our children were born. We don’t remember feeling troubled by an abundance of time, but compared to what we now experience, it’s hard to understand our earlier years any other way. Revisionist history now tells us that we must have read dozens of books each month and weren't unsurprised by the sound of silence.  

It can be habitual to think that life was easier when we look in the rearview mirror. I know of many parents who bemoan their shortage of time and the increased responsibilities that they now bear. This is usually compounded by the guilt they carry from no longer devoting as much time to the spiritual practices they think “count” such as personal Bible reading and prayer. Not surprisingly, any activity that requires personal time is likely to take a significant hit when anyone becomes a care taker for a young child (my golf game is a perfect example).

Comedian Jim Gaffigan defines children as young humans constantly making noise. He would know since he and his wife share their two-bedroom apartment with their five kids.

If quiet time is so hard to come by, what can a parent do to have Christ formed within them?

John Ortberg suggests that our season of life is not a barrier to our spiritual growth because our growth should not be defined by prescribed activities. Parents may have limited opportunities for quiet time, but as they care for their child they can offer expressions of gratitude, prayers for help, and the patient acceptance of trials. This, Ortberg argues, might become a kind of school for transformation into powerful servanthood beyond anything a person might have otherwise known.*

It can be tempting to define unexpected or unwanted circumstances in our lives as barriers to our spiritual growth, but these can actually be the very catalysts for our growth. We can choose to devote each season of our life to the transforming work of the Spirit.

Some of our circumstances come through our choices, but we live with other realities that we had no choice of. Either way, every season of our life counts. If we find ourselves wishing away a particular season, we’re actually wishing away our very life.

Instead of wishing we were in another season, let’s discover what this one offers. Because the best season of your life is now.

- Keith Reed