There are four tools that everyone needs in their toolboxes. Not everyone has these tools and they can manage through life without them, but it certainly is easier with them.
I have been a proponent of strengths-based service delivery since before I even knew it was a thing. Strengths-based service delivery is centered around finding the strengths of those you are working with and building upon those strengths by adding more tools. I have taken very personally Abraham Maslow’s assertion that, ‘if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to approach every problem as a nail.’ I am not that much of a handyman or construction dude, but I have done enough shade tree projects to know you have to have the proper tools for the job. The same thing is true of life. If you want to overcome the stressor or difficulty facing you, you need the proper tools to overcome it. Here are four tools that I believe are essential for us all to possess in our toolboxes, whether we are helping other or just looking to overcome our own stressors.
- Empathy – Empathy can be defined in many ways, but simply put it is the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Being able to understand their perspective and see the situation from their eyes. This goes a very long way when we are helping others, because we are able to step outside of ourselves and see things from their point of view and combining that with our knowledge assist them in devising a solution. It is also helpful because sometimes we are wrong and we need to see the other side in order to come to resolution. We need to know how we have hurt someone. We need to be able to understand how others think and feel. Additonally, empathy entails a genuine care and concern for others. This isn’t a sympathetic feeling sorry for others, it is an authentic care for them as people.
- Apathy – This may seem strange, but I have come realize I can only do so much. And it doesn’t matter how much I want something for you, if you don’t want it for yourself you will never change. As long as I can lay my head down at the end of the night knowing I have done all I can do, then I am good. You have to want it to and until you make the efforts to change or adjust, it doesn’t matter how I try to change you. This is the classic ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ scenario.
- Everyone has at least one strength – This is tough… because it doesn’t always feel like this is true. But deep inside, somewhere hidden amongst the mess is their strength. Is something they do well. Something they are proficient at. Something they are confident in. Finding this strength and building upon it is critical to working with others. And when we are facing our own struggles, it is critical to recall our own strengths and not dwell or wallow in our shortcomings. Which really leads to the last tool:
- We are the same – I learned very early on when working in child welfare (fancy name for the child abuse field), there was a fine line separating me from my clients. This is still true today. I have more tools, more resources, more supports but without them I would be in jeopardy of making choices and decisions I would regret. I have to realize the tools I have doesn’t make me ‘better’ but charges me with a responsibility to help others. This can also be worded as humility. Knowing I don’t have all the answers. Knowing I make mistakes and I am in need of the same grace I am offering you.
Having these tools doesn’t guarantee success or an easy life or whatever. But having them is one step closer to being better prepared to face whatever may come at you today.
It’s Monday morning. I am sitting at my desk, wishing I was at home in bed. So far, this Monday is winning the battle. It was a long weekend, but it was a very good weekend. Our two oldest boys played in a soccer tournament this weekend, the Alliance Cup. And by all standards, the tournament was a success. By far, the most successful tournament our boys have participated in.
In the past, tournaments have kind of been a necessary evil. A long weekend of soccer that leaves you exhausted and wishing you could go back in time and devise any excuse to have not gone to the tournament. This weekend is different. I am tired and I am sunburned, but I am satisfied with the outcome of the tournament.
More than that I am proud of how my boys played their hardest and showed how much they have grown and improved in soccer this fall. They are both playing with an intensity and commitment that brings great joy to my heart. But more importantly, they had fun and enjoyed the experience.
Hayden’s team finished the tournament 1-2 and did not make the finals. However, in the game they won Hayden scored a goal. This was his first goal of the season. He was so excited and happy! He barely could contain his excitement throughout the day and weekend. This was definitely a highlight for him and us as parents. Our satisfaction with Hayden doesn’t change because he scored a goal. We love him the same no matter what. I am full of joy because of the happiness this goal has brought to him. Aside from the excitement of the goal in that game, Hayden played one of his best games he has ever played that game. He was put on the field as a forward and several runs on the goal with the ball and had it not been for the defenders stepping in, he would have been in a position to take shots on the goal (somehow, he managed to make runs without the support of his teammates). During the other games, he played goalkeeper and he has show great improvement overall but especially as a goalkeeper this year. I could not be happier with where Hayden is at this moment.
Noah’s team finished the tournament 3-1 and Champions of their division. They came out strong and played strong throughout the tournament. Noah played goalkeeper in every game and he only let 3 goals in for the whole weekend. He had two clean sheets during the weekend. He claims his team named him the Man of the Match for the final game. The final was a great game and he played a very good game. He was challenged by the opposing team and stood the test and emerged victorious.
This was a significant tournament for both of out boys because their previous tournament experiences left something to be desired. This season as a whole has been a great one. I credit their growth and development as young men to making this season a good for them in addition to a new coach (they both have the same coach) who is able to coach and speak to them in terms they can understand. He is a great coach and really enjoys coaching and enjoys these boys.
As a father, it is hard me to find greater joys than seeing my boys happy. And today, they are happy… therefore I am happy.
Three weeks ago at Grace Orlando we kicked off a new series of sermons. The series is entitled ‘One.’ With the main focus to unify the church (all 6 campuses) to one purpose. It’s sorta a capital campaign that is focusing more on 100% participation by the church members than it is on the money. It’s about discipleship more than anything.
During last week’s sermon, Pastor Mike asked the question – what is God asking you to give him that you aren’t sure you are going to be willing to give up? As I sat listening to the sermon, challenged to be sure, I wasn’t sure what God is asking of me. As the day progressed and I thought more about the sermon and talked it over with my wife, I think I may have come up with something. As I write this, I’m sitting in the lobby of a DCF office waiting for my new supervisor to come and get me. I think maybe one of the things God is asking me to give him is my job. Over the last few years, work had been pretty much what it always has been for me. After almost 20 years of work experience, the longest employment I’ve ever had anywhere is 3.5 years at a part-time job. I have lots of experience in essentially the same field, but very little in any given place for any amount of time.
Jack of all trades, Master of None.
This is how I feel. When I don’t feel like a failure for being almost 40 with nothing more to show for myself. (It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I feel the pull of this midlife thing.) I feel like I have the opportunity to start over. Begin again. Embark on a new career. And as such, I am committing this one to God. I am letting go of expectations or regrets and letting God supersede in this endeavor.
I will excel at this job, not for my own career advancement but to glorify God. I will realize this is my calling. This is where he has placed me.
As I sit here waiting for this job to start, I’m anxious and nervous… hope and waiting with anticipation. I am ready to go to work for God in the setting he has placed me.
To God be the glory.
In our digital, global, information overload world with rapidly changing images and stimuli, we have cultivated a culture where less is more and this has bled over into our relationships and most detrimentally to our relationships with our children. As parents, we often look for ways for us to not give our kids the Attention they are looking for.
It is the little things in life that make the most meaningful impact sometimes. It is the tying of the shoes. It is the folding of the clothes. It is the completing of the homework. It is sweeping or making of the bed together. It is the picking up of the toys. It is the time spent doing the tasks or things that have seemingly no importance at all that make the difference. It is the not-so-helpful hands preparing dinner. The snuggles on the couch before bed. It is xbox, board games, card games, kicking a soccer ball, playing war or the occasional lightsaber battle in the living room. All of these are times when children get the attention from their parents they crave desperately. Attention focused on them and no one else. Attention given to them, showing them their little lives matter to us as parents.
Sometimes it is hurtful yell or scream. Sometimes it is chastising glance and mean words given. Sometimes it is unending berating in the form of a lecture about how the smallest mistake means the child is stupid. Sometimes it is spanking, the slapping and the forcibly being put into the corner or on their bed for timeout. It is the undivided attention of a parent who can no longer ignore the actions of their child and now they have to intervene and give attention to the child because the child has so completely disrupted whatever activity the parent is engaged in.
Either way, the bottom line is attention. Children crave the attention of their parents. The old cliche is so very true, ‘negative attention is better than no attention at all.’
Many kids just want someone to pay attention to them. Someone to give them something. The challenge as parents is for us to not be irritated when our kids need attention from us. Often, if we stop what we are doing for just a few minutes we can give our kids the attention they desire and be able to get back to our tasks. It isn’t hard. It is about giving them the attention and time they need. It usually doesn’t require a lot of time. As parents it is our responsibility to be on the lookout for the attention our kids need from us and then give it to them. Offer them what they desire. Give them the love and attention they crave.
Are we looking for ways we can give our kids the attention the desire or are we viewing every interruption by them as a nuisance to be overcome? I challenge you today and the rest of the week to take the moments your kids ask for… and then some. Don’t be bothered. Don’t be agitated. Don’t get mad. Give your kids what they want from you… you. Your attention. Your time. You.
Are you willing to accept the challenge?
A few weeks ago, as I got the boys up and ready to go for school this happened:
Each day brings its own adventure. Each day brings its own challenges as a parent and as a human being. Today was no different. The boys were up til almost 11pm last night wrapping up homework. So we let them sleep in later than usual today. Got them up at 7:50.
We quickly powered through breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth and combing hair with little incident. Lunches got packed, backpacks got packed and we prepared to walk out the door.
That’s when it happened.
Jagger realized he had lemonade in his lunch and one of his brothers had Gatorade in theirs. I did this because we didn’t have enough lemonade for everyone. And there was only a little Gatorade anyway.
But Jagger, decided he wanted lemonade. So he threw himself on the floor and began to yell ‘I want Gatorade!’ As I headed for the door to leave, he changed his tune to, ‘I want water in my lemonade!’ By adding water, he would then have a full bottle of beverage to take with him. Which was the real dilemma for him. He was concerned that he wouldn’t have enough to drink today.
He quickly made the change, then headed to the car. At that point, my 6th grader decided at plastic grocery sack didn’t make a cool lunch box (he’s lost 2 lunch boxes this week), so he was like ‘I have a sack in my room I can put this in’.
As I walk to the car, he grabs his sack and catches up to us.
I have a full morning of counseling sessions planned, so I was absolutely prepared to drive off leaving young men stranded to find their own way to school this morning.
Ruthless and reckless. That’s me.
How was your morning?