old_man_basketballMondays are usually rest days for me. As a pastor, weekends are usually packed with ministry. I am grateful that on Monday mornings, my wife, Jenn, allows me to take some time to play basketball with friends from church.

The guys I get to play with are literally guys half my age. Playing with them is interesting to say the least. Interesting because they don’t know how to deal with playing with someone as old as their dad. They’re respectful because of my age (and function in church) so they tend to be nicer but get upset when they fall behind or lose (which rarely happens).

One Monday morning, I wasn’t playing very well which is not seldom. Our team was trailing primarily because I wasn’t making the shots I was taking. Blame it on exhaustion or team chemistry, but bottomline was because I was medieval and disintegrating. But here’s the thing, I didn’t take myself out of the game to replace myself with someone who could do a better job.

Pride.

That was the main reason. Trying to prove to myself or others that I can still hack it caused me to stay too long.

This is a major reason why many stay too long in a leadership position. People want to feel significant and desire to hold on to their title as long as they can. As a result, the upcoming guys end up hitting a lid or simply leave the organization.

I told our staff, colleagues and especially my superiors that when the time comes, it will be more helpful for me that they tell me that I am no longer effective instead of keeping quiet, tolerate and simply endure my leadership. It’s not beneficial to me nor for the organization I lead.

As consulting expert, Rachel Ong, would say, “When you replace yourself, there’s always going to be another position of influence waiting for you.” She would often use the example of Lee Kwan Yew. He retired and turned over the leadership of Singapore when he was in his prime. He passed the baton and got out of the way. As a result, not only was there great respect but other leaders ran to him for insight, wisdom and counsel. That’s what it means to be a statesman. One can actually influence without having a title. He exemplified it. And got honored for it.

Growing in leadership doesn’t mean holding on to the title and keeping a firm grip on your role. Discernment will dictate when to ramp off so that you can build another up. In the end, your leadership will not just be a title but a legacy.

I recently discovered a very helpful website (www.orangeparents.org) for parents.

The following article was written by Carey Nieuwhof on how to detect if you’re becoming a boastful parent.

I wish I could say I’ve never been guilty… but this is definitely a good reminder from Carey.

What is worse than a boastful parent is a boastful “ME”.

Hope this article helps.

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Has social media become a platform for you as a parent to preen a little about the achievements and excellence of your kids?

Now please understand, I’m a big fan of social media. My personal view is that social media isn’t good or evil; it simply reveals and amplifies what’s already there.

We like to talk about the things we are passionate about. And we are passionate about our kids. But I tend to agree with a few articles I’ve read recently.

Robert Brooks makes some excellent points in this piece about how parents have taken to using social media to brag on their kids. It’s gone way beyond “My Child is an Honor Student” bumper stickers (which has more than a little swagger to it) to a full blown ego strut. If we spoke out loud at a dinner party the things that we often tweeted or updated online, we might dismissed as being rude, bragging, or showing off.

Tim Elmore has recently written a great article for the Huffington Post about the implications of bragging, over-affirming parents who, he says, are raising a generation of kids with high arrogance and low self-esteem. I find his insights piercing.

So if we reframed the question, we could ask it this way:

Have you taken to boasting, bragging, and otherwise flaunting your children’s accomplishments online?

Probably not a single one of us wants to say yes.

I’m not real thrilled about asking myself the question, but the articles have made me do some soul searching.

Do you wonder if you are one of those boastful parents? Here are 5 signs you might be one:

1. You’re as passionate about people knowing about your child’s achievement as you are passionate about your child’s achievement. Don’t get me wrong, parents are supposed to be proud of their kids. But pride may have won the moment when you become as passionate about other people knowing how awesome your kids are as you are about your child’s awesomeness.

2.  You feel a need to make your delight public. I love to keep people close to me updated on my kids’ progress. I have two sons I’m very proud of. But telling grandmas and grandpas, the wider family, and some good friends (who also care about our kids) is different than trumpeting it to everyone you know. If you feel a need to make their best moments public, you might well be prone to boasting.

3. You only celebrate your own victories. One of the reasons braggarts are so difficult to like is because they are self-absorbed. They only want to talk about themselves, and rarely ask questions about others. If you can’t share the spotlight, genuinely delight in the accomplishments of others, and not get jealous when others do “better”, pride might be gaining some real estate in your heart.

4. Your gratitude isn’t that genuine. It’s easy to bury boasting under an “I’m so thankful that….insert brag here mantra,” as in “I’m so thankful that my son placed first in his class and crushed all the other kids.” (That’s a little sarcasm, just so you know.)  Your private gratitude will always be deeper than your public proclamation. Sometimes true wonder and amazement cannot be expressed in 140 characters or less.

5. You don’t like to give credit to others. Some kids are just gifted. They actually are first in the class. They get all the trophies. And some of you have a child like that. So what do you do? I think humble parents are often last to take the credit. Many will talk about God’s grace, their kid’s hard work, solid coaches, teachers, friends and mentors, instead of giving themselves full marks. For example, “So thankful for everyone who made my daughter’s final year of elementary school such a great one” makes a much better status update than “Top of her class, again!!!!”.

The main reason I can write about this is only because I have to struggle through these things regularly. And I certainly don’t always get it right.

The battle against pride is so important. The last thing I want to do is lead a narcissistic life.

Scratch that.

Even worse would be this: being even partially responsible for the next generation losing the humility and wonder of knowing a God who is gracious to his children and loves us far far beyond our deserving.

That would be the last thing I want to do.

I had a thought this morning.

OUR POSTURE WILL DETERMINE OUR POSITION.

James 4:6 says that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

In short, I want grace not opposition from God.

How do we see this humility in the day to day?

1. HUMILITY BEFORE GOD.

When we achieve a certain measure of growth and success, we begin to trust in our experience, achievements and sheer talent.

Experience. “We’ve been doing this for many years. I know what I am doing.”
Achievements. “We’ve had momentum for some time now. I don’t think it will ever change.”
Talent. “We got here doing this my way. I think we’re on the right track.”

Daniel 4 tells us the story of King Nebuchadnezzar. His arrogance got him in trouble. He said, “Is this not the great Babylon I have built by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” As a result, God took away his authority and made him live like an animal.

We may not articulate it, but possibly act it.

2. HUMILITY BEFORE MEN.

I’d wager that many a conflict is solvable with humility.
There are a lot of disagreements and arguments that continue and graduate to bigger conflicts because of lack of humility.

We are where we are today primarily because of what God has done.

Our posture will determine our practice.

Remember, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

I tucked my kids to bed a few minutes ago.

Two of them had an argument because one said something hurtful towards another.

The easiest thing to do is to tell one to ask for forgiveness and for the other one to acknowledge and forgive. Then life moves on.

I’ve done that so many times.

But tonight, we tried to get to the heart of the behavior.

Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) says, “Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life.”

It is the heart that drives behavior.

I asked both, “When you are mean towards one another, what is really going on? What is the heart of the issue?”

I asked that question because when one is hurt, s/he will try to retaliate to make the other feel his/her hurt.

We talked about the root of the behavior. It really is PRIDE.

“Because I got hurt, I will try to make you feel my pain by hurting you back.”

We don’t articulate this, but in effect, it is what we actually end up doing.

2 QUICK THOUGHTS:

1. As parents, it is good to not just ‘fix the problem’ and then move on. Telling them to go to their room is probably the simplest way to do it. But it doesn’t solve the heart issue. It actually worsens if unresolved.

2. Unfortunately, this type of thing doesn’t just happen to kids. It happens to adults as well… all the time. We retaliate when we get hurt.

Hurt people hurt people. But free people free people.

Lord, teach us to see the folly of our behavior and go beyond the surface to check out the heart issue. When we see the real issue, that’s when we can go to you and ask for grace to overcome. In and of ourselves, it is virtually and absolutely impossible. Yet your grace is more than sufficient.

 

 

 

We have become so self absorbed that we don’t even notice it anymore.

Often enough, when we glance at a group picture, whose face do we look for first?  If you’d be honest, you look at you first.

Have you ever had an argument with someone after which you rehearsed in your mind over and over what you should have said and not said so that you could’ve won the argument?  Probably.

Next question – how many of you conjured a rerun of that same argument in your mind wherein you lost?  Not very many I suppose.

D.A. Carson puts it aptly when he said,

“Our self-centeredness is deep.  It is so brutally idolatrous that it tries to domesticate God Himself.  In our desperate folly, we act as if we can outsmart God, as if He owes us explanations, as if we are wise and self-determining while He exists only to meet our needs.”

Scarily truthful.