Posts tagged ‘relationships’

August 5, 2010

Relational Stewardship and The God Perspective

As a father of seven, with quadruplets in the middle you might say I have become the experienced conductor of a large domestic locomotive. Nearly nine years now as an at home dad for teens to toddlers, 4 girls, three boys with four at one time might just have given me a bit of insight but you tell me.

Parenting, to my thinking is a trust executed as an art. It is practiced with intention, instincts, passion and planning or it becomes something akin to a train wreck. The wreckage of which is not twisted cars and broken rails but warped lives and ruined futures. There are so many opinions, how-to’s, materials and experts in the parenting universe. How does a well intentioned mom or dad tell if they have their family on the right tracks? Well, I suggest you might try to consider this; see yourself as a relational steward working from a God perspective.

Now I know a lot of folks just run away at the mention of terms like Stewardship or God these days. So, as a courtesy to those that may find an unintentional offense at my terminology, do this little intellectual exercise if you feel you must. Whenever I use the word “Steward” mentally insert the word “Conservation” and for my use of the word “God” just mentally insert the word “Useful”. Feel free to cut and paste this whole rant into your word processor of preference, title it “Relational Conservation from the Useful Perspective” and edit it up before consumption. Then judge my rhetoric, zeal and advice as to whether they affect any meaningful persuasion. Don’t just tune-out because of one little word! That would not be well, not “useful” to anyone.
I am convinced that nearly all parents have a genuine desire to do the best for their kids. However, for many, due in part to the tidal wave of materials, services and advice offered some have become too performance driven. This creates a restless “how do I stack up” mentality. Indeed parenting for some seems almost competitive. These find their focus becoming askew if not careful. Their efforts gradually more driven by appearances and anxieties than by healthy attainable goals based on the near and far term.

Also as families world-wide are breaking down. Sociologist and other researchers have shown that much of the dysfunction is generationally related. If one is raised by parents or a parent struggling with, poverty, addiction or some other challenge their children are most likely to as well. If children are raised with no standard or poor standards of behavior, low expectations of success or little true acceptance their probability of recreating these conditions is sadly almost assured.
These are two distinct sets of parenting groups. One set hyper motivated, insecure and performance driven. The other set under motivated, generationally dysfunctional with grave situational and societal challenges. Both groups have this in common a misplaced focus and distorted view of success. This is where my wife and my use of relational stewardship from the God perspective has kept us on track and on schedule.
Every individual has given talents and abilities. They also have given relationships. We do not get to choose our parents and siblings. Our family of origin is out of our control. Yet as seasons pass we will take our turns in the parade of parents and generations. This is God’s perspective. The parade goes on and on and He sees it all. He sees it in whole. It is hard for people to think this way but the effort is very useful.
You see that family of origin that we could not control may have given us some bruises and broken templates to build upon. We have the power to not allow an out of control spiral to continue by changing the goal-line. All we were given, the good and bad we must steward, manage and utilize. We do this in light of what the parade was like before us and how we want it to look after we turn the corner and fade from ground level view.

To do this we must make relationships the priority. The materialism of our time is deceiving. The toys and technology will breakdown. The opinions and approval of other will shift and wane. The cars, homes and clothes will age and fashions change. The relationships and the seasons we are given will ever be a part of the parade. Our ability to shape and direct them relies on the priority and focus we give them. Not recreating the dysfunction, changing the downward spirals and ending the anxiety driven, image motivated and competitive relational approach make God’s perspective a place where approval can be found and becomes healthy.
Perhaps this sounds simplistic all I can tell you is it come with practice. Take a quiet moment to reflect on where your family train is heading. Consider what that parade looks like once you get past street level. Where ever you are along the line and down the boulevard change is just a purposed mental step away if you can get the right perspective. From my unique perception this might be the most useful if not Godly thing any of us can do.

July 8, 2010

You Should Be Committed!

In such a self-serving hedonistic time as ours how do folks make, manage and maintain a health marriage? Interestingly, this is one area where following Christ’s example might find us a bit stumped. Jesus never married. I do not care what Tom Hanks says. The apostle Paul was married back in his hometown of Tarsus. However, he could not even get his ministry going until both Tarsus and the wife were behind him. His advice basically on marriage was “if you don’t have to, don’t”.

Now we could lay out a good Christian comedy routine about here but marriage is not a joke, nor is divorce a laughing matter. Paul valued marriage but was committed to the ministry. It had to be his priority. He had learned that priorities mattered and will take us places. Indeed this is my first point. Marriage must be a priority that we are committed to in order to make it a trip worth taking.

I can hear you saying,”Well DUH Mike”! Just stick with me. Commitments are really about goals. This is where any couple can completely blow it. Trips can be nice but if we disagree on the destination, we have troubles. Too many couples, including the Christian ones, take off on their little train trip of life long love with rosy feeling, warm hearts and good intentions. Some soon find themselves disappointed and going back to the conductor because they did not have tickets to the same locale.

Goals, mutual goals must be in place if we are committed to reaching them. Having no mutual goals means, you have no real commitment. Mutual goals must also be more than wanting to have children and raising them from the same page but this is a good start. Sadly, you would be surprised how many folks even overlook this before signing the papers.

Here is my advice. Sit down together and talk about each others wants, needs, hopes and dreams. List them out, then begin to plan the short, middle, and long term plans to get to those relational destinations. In the effort, you will create mutual goals and mutual understanding. Even if the wants, hopes and dreams do not all come true. You will be fulfilling more than a few serious needs for a good and Godly marriage. Even if you do not like making lists JUST SIT DOWN AND TALK!

Take this advice and apply just half of what Jesus walked and talked about concerning, forgiveness, meekness, kindness and self-sacrifice. That is the example that will smooth out all of life’s travels. Then use those tickets for two on a trip well worth taking with a destination that is mutual and truly heavenly for those committed to getting there together.