Category Archives: Family Leadership

Parents Are The Most Important Leaders

28Petra“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” 

Pericles (495 – 429 BC)

Most people were raised by parents who did just fine with us even though they never read a child rearing book.  I believe that is because much of child rearing is intuitive for those who want to be a good parent.  Most child rearing books are written by psychologists.  Since I am a CPA by training, you will not find any psychological theory in these posts, but you will find my intuitive theories and what I have learned raising our nine children to adulthood.

My posts are not intended to be a manual on how to get inside your kids’ heads.  We all know that every one of us is unique.  Methods that help one child might not help the next.  Therefore, the wise parent will listen to others ideas and decide what is best for each individual child.

I’m not always correct, as my kids frequently point out but, hopefully, you will find practical advice as to what seems to work and what doesn’t.  I just want to share some ideas and experiences about life with you readers.

Since our professions, service organizations, sporting events, etc. are obviously less important than our families, we must devote sufficient time and effort to make sure that we are taking care of things at home.  Too many fathers have the misconception that their responsibility is to earn money so that the family can have the essentials, and luxuries, of life.  Some think it is Mom’s responsibility to raise the kids while Dad participates in other activities. 

A father’s role is so much more important than just buying Play Stations and funding a college education. The societal problems and temptations of our day require a more involved father.  Fathers must talk to, play with, educate, discipline, enjoy and love their children.  The lack of a father-figure will cause society to lose our children in even greater numbers than ever before because of the destructive forces all around us.  By the time the specter of losing a child becomes evident, it might be too late to make a course correction.

Subsequent posts will deal with how parents, but especially fathers, can protect and provide for their families while providing the leadership that children so desperately need.



Theories of Parenting

A100Before I was married I had three theories about raising children.  Now I have three children and no theories.

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester      (1647-1680) 

Having children is a great way to refute naive opinions of how to properly raise a child.  Children are people and people are different.  Each situation is different.  Therefore, there is no patently correct answer to every child or every situation.  However, there are some underlying truths that never change.  These must be the bedrock of our approach to unique people in unique situations.  I am convinced that the following are the foundation upon which we must build our family, if we are to be successful in creating a legacy of a happy family.

  1. Eliminate pride in our relationships.  Most loving parents intuitively know how to raise their children.  The problems arise when we stop listening to our hearts and start satisfying our own pride and selfishness.  Most marriages fail and most parents lose touch with their kids because of pride and selfishness.  Rather than trying to solve a problem in a loving manner, many times we harden our hearts and act in a way that only serves to protect our ego.  I can write authoritatively on this subject because I do it with greater frequency that I care to admit.
  1. Understand the importance of a father and mother role model.  Thankfully, mothers usually act in the best interest of their children.  Many children do not have an attentive father, because he is absent or he is involved in other activities that he considers to be more important.  This role needs to be filled by someone, even if it is an uncle, church leader, Scoutmaster, family friend, etc. Having a good father and mother role model will increase the likelihood that the child will have the perspective necessary to be a successful spouse, parent and person.
  1. Teach our children with love.  Nothing is more important than love in any human relationship.  Loving our children comes naturally to most parents.  To love is not to compromise the truth, nor to spoil or coddle, nor to condone inappropriate behavior.  We follow the example of Jesus Christ when we love the sinner but condemn the sin.

The important thing to remember is to convert the love we feel into what we do and say.  Our children will tolerate a lot of our mistakes if they know that we love them.  We have all seen wayward children return to goodness after realizing that their parents still loved them in spite of their bad behavior.  They usually do not come back if the parents do not reach out to them with love.

“The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home”   –  David O. McKay

If our homes are truly the university of life for our children, we must be prepared and willing to teach.  If success in our home is the most important success in life, we must devote as much time as is necessary to achieve the desired result.



“Don’t Judge Me!”

A58
We often hear the phrase, “Don’t judge me,” especially when the person saying it is doing something that they know they shouldn’t.  Some use the biblical, “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matt 7:1), as justification.  Jesus Christ did not mean that we should not make any judgments because he also said, “…judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).  It is, therefore, important that we learn how to judge righteously or appropriately.  When I die, I am confident that I will still be judged even if I never judged anyone.

Will Rogers said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”  Certainly we learn from our experience but it would be wonderful if we could avoid bad experiences. 

Since we all make hundreds of judgments every day; including, what will I do with my free time and, how much will I spend on a hamburger; these are some guidelines to consider.

Appropriate Judgement

  • Associations – We must all determine if those we associate are potentially damaging to us. For example – Will I go to lunch with the group at work that likes to tell dirty jokes?  Will I allow my children to go to the home of people I do not know very well?  We can work with and be around others that do not share our standards but we have the right and obligation to protect ourselves as much as possible from those associations that are harmful.  We also judge who we will date and marry.
  • Philosophies – Evil does exist in the world and wickedness is glorified in the media. We use our judgement to keep those philosophies from damaging our lives.
  • Life Paths – Just because it looks cool to spend your life gratifying your every urge doesn’t mean that it is a good choice. If others choose a certain lifestyle or if there is something that “everyone” does, you don’t have to follow suit.  Use your judgement to determine if that is the correct path for you.
  • Habits – Some habits hurt others. Some lead to addictions.  Judge carefully because your choice could control your future.
  • Appearance – Everyone knows that you can’t judge a book by its cover but following that adage blindly could lead you astray. The clothes we wear and the things we do to our bodies are our personal billboard as to what we are.  Sometimes our interpretation is wrong but there is nothing wrong with being cautious around a person who is advertising something we don’t buy.
  • Abilities – If you have ever hired a plumber or interviewed a job applicant, you know that you must be able to judge the abilities of someone to do a certain job.

Inappropriate Judgement

  • Snap Judgements – Except in emergency situations, snap judgements should be avoided. Don’t judge by appearances or initial impressions.  Do some research and evaluation, otherwise you can make some bad decisions and lose out on some cherished friendships.
  • Potential – We are incapable of determining the potential of another person. We are all children of God and Christ told us to perfect like he is.  We can never say that another person will never be a better person than they are right now.  There is always hope.
  • Final Judgement – Only God has the right and the ability to render a final judgement. Some say that they are going to heaven; while those who worship differently than they do are damned.  That judgement is exactly what is meant by, “Judge not…”    
  • Ego Driven – Any judgement that has the sole purpose of fueling someone’s arrogance will be tainted, at best. Those who live to judge others to make themselves look better will lead a lonely and unfulfilled existence.
  • Judging Oneself Too Harshly – We all have problems and character flaws. That is because we are human.  God knows us and loves us.  He does not want to condemn us.  If we are on the path to be more like him and trying to do his will, he will accept us and help us.

We will continue to make judgments every day, as we always have.  We will certainly make better judgments if we follow the advice of author, Anne McCaffrey, “Make no judgments where you have no compassion.”

Counterfeit Morality

 

IMG_0611The First Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This “separation of church and state” is now typically interpreted as the exclusion of God from anything governmental.  Reading the speeches of the founding fathers reveals that they considered God an integral part of their lives and the existence of this nation.  

The culture of our century is defined by Hollywood morality.  In other words, the moral compass of our country now consists of platitudes that reflect the philosophies of men with God playing only a minor role.

Without God, you can make up your own rules; which is precisely what has been done.  The government is now the counterfeit god you pray to in order to get what you want.  Environmentalism is now the counterfeit religion, just like the nature worshiping pagans and pantheists of antiquity. 

Of even greater concern is the impact that Hollywood morality has had on those who worship God.  Corrupt philosophies have led to a counterfeit tolerance that does not judge anything to be good or evil.  They attempt to claim their virtue by preaching, “God is love.”  God is just love and nothing else; no justice, no obedience, no self-control and no accountability?

This chic concept of situational ethics ignores consequences and the absolutes that God mandated.   As philosopher, C. Terry Warner put it, “Indulgence is a punitive counterfeit of charity.” 

Counterfeit morality appeals to those who are wise in their own eyes.  Consider how the Ten Commandments have been perverted by otherwise God-fearing people.

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Haven’t we, as a society, embraced celebrities, sports teams, jobs, entertainment, etc. to be our modern-day gods?

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

Aren’t cars, boats, homes, jewelry, etc. forms of graven, or man-made, images that we can choose worship and adore?

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Isn’t profanity rampant in all segments of society with the name of the Lord featured prominently?  And, doesn’t using the name of our God in casual conversation and in meaningless oaths qualify as “in vain?”

4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Are football, working, shopping, playing at the beach, going to Disneyland, etc. holy activities?  Is God’s designated holy day just like all the rest?”

5. Honor thy father and thy mother.

Does honoring our parents allow ignoring them in their old age?  How about when young adults live off the labors of their parents?  Finally, can we honor parents when we absolve ourselves of their care in favor of government agencies?

6. Thou shalt not kill.

People don’t usually kill others, partly because of the consequences.  How about when they kill the spirit of another through abuse or neglect?  Isn’t abortion a form of killing, since that embryo already has God-given life in it?

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Is it ever acceptable to trifle with the God-given power to create life?  Aren’t promiscuity, pornography, sexual abuse and perversion all forms of violating the sacredness of what God intended as marital relations for a husband and wife?  Isn’t sexual immorality one of the foundations of the corrupting Hollywood morality?

8. Thou shalt not steal.

Aren’t exorbitant judgments from groundless lawsuits now one of the major get-rich-quick scams of our day for dishonest plaintiffs and their attorneys?  Is it not also stealing to tax one group of citizens so politicians can improve their image by being charitable with other people’s money?

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

Don’t we allow a little cheating on a tax return, accepting political “spin,” twisting the truth to suit our needs and exaggerating the negatives about people we don’t like?

10. Thou shalt not covet.

Aren’t debt, fashion devotion, and some forms of plastic surgery all manifestations of coveting things we don’t have?

Conventional wisdom teaches that we should do whatever we want unless it hurts another person directly and immediately.  Therefore, have sex outside marriage as long as you use a condom.  Ignore God because his justice is not immediate.  Cheat on your taxes as long as you don’t get caught.  Drive as fast as you want if you don’t hit someone else.  Do anything you want as long as you can get away with it.

Conventional wisdom is counterfeit wisdom.  The Ten Commandments are commandments and not suggestions or broad guidelines open to loose interpretation.  Justice will come.  Hollywood morality and our counterfeit culture will all unravel.  The only hope is to love God and our fellowman by keeping the commandments.  It is the only way to true happiness.

Know When to Shut Up

A102My oldest daughter bought me a shirt that has these words written in bold, black letters on the chest, “Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion.”  I doubt that she meant it as one of the things that she admires most about her dad.  I readily admit that I have an opinion about everything that I consider consequential and it has taken me many years to learn to express those opinions more appropriately.

I know of the old adage, “One never discusses politics or religion in polite company.”  Politics and religion are my favorite topics and I find discussing them to be mentally stimulating.   However, even prattling about mindless trivialities can get you in trouble these days.  Discussing the weather can easily slip into the politicized bombshell of “climate change.”  “How are you?” – can lead to a debate on the importance of God in our lives. 

Since discussions of things that are important to us lead us to express our opinions.  And, since opinions are as ubiquitous and individual as people, we need to learn how to express our opinions and when to just shut up.

From someone who apparently feels that everyone is entitled to my opinion, I offer the following list, based on extensive experience with my wife and children, and on the job.

Shut Up When You…

  1. See a glazed look in the eyes of the person to whom you are speaking. They are no longer listening, no matter how brilliant your comments are.
  2. Are doing all of the talking and no one else is participating in the “conversation.” This is when you become a bore and a boor.
  3. Know the other person has no regard for what you are saying. Don’t waste your time or theirs.
  4. Are damaging your relationship by what you are saying. Sometimes you have to say unpleasant things to others, but stop until you can say it in a better way.
  5. Keep talking about things that are inconsequential or unimportant to others. For example, when you discuss the latest standings in the NBA with me.
  6. Start to use sarcasm. Sarcasm is the language of arrogance and condescension.
  7. Are expressing an opinion on something you know little or nothing about. Questioning would be more appropriate.
  8. Realize that being right is not as important as being right with the person to whom you are speaking. Relationships are always more important than being right.
  9. Use inflammatory language. The politician you are discussing is not an idiot, even if you strongly disagree with his/her philosophy.
  10. Realize that the other person in the conversation is an egotist. The proud are terrible conversationalists since they prefer to lecture and mock rather than discuss.
  11. Resort to demeaning the other person rather than focusing on the topic. This is a sure indication that you do not have the ability to defend your opinion.
  12. Lecture anyone for more than three minutes. After three minutes of talking, you have lost their attention and you are probably just repeating what you already said.
  13. Could undermine the authority of a leader of a worthwhile cause.  Talk to the leader if you have a concern instead of complaining to anyone who will listen.
  14. Become aware that everything you are saying is about yourself. No one wants to listen to a braggart.
  15. Intend to say something, that doesn’t have to be said, that could hurt someone else’s feelings. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean that it has to be spoken.

The ability to say the right thing at the right time is an important talent.  The ability to know when to shut up and do it is probably more important.

Commit to Change

 

P215My wife and I are working with a number of people who are trying to change for the better.  Their goal is to become more productive, draw closer to God and get to the point where they can help others.  Many of them are fighting addictions.

Improvement is only possible through change.  As we help them to change, we give them commitments to keep.  Those commitments include associating with people who will lift them, reading, evaluating, changing habits and praying.  Even with the best of intentions, some continue to stumble, but stumbling is OK if they get up and continue forward.   

Most of our societal problems are the result of people following the mantra of the 1970’s, “If it feels good, do it.”  Some were never taught or they consistently chose to avoid anything that required effort, sacrifice or self-restraint.  Following the path of least resistance led them to a life of mediocrity or to the dark world of addictions

Commitment issues are not exclusive to overcoming addictions.  Many people avoid doing difficult things and have suffered the consequences.  Common commitment problems include homework, chores, marriage, diets, job assignments, money management, exercise and charitable kindness.

As employers, parents, friends, coaches and counselors, we can help those with commitment issues if they are willing to do their part.  The following ideas will increase the likelihood of success.

Steps to help others make and keep commitments

  1. Explain what they are supposed to do, in detail. They need to understand the commitment before they can keep it.
  2. Challenge them to commit to the task. If they have questions, answer all of the questions and challenge them again.
  3. Ask them to repeat what they are committing to do. Many times people will say they understand but it will become obvious if they don’t as they try to express the commitment.
  4. Describe the benefits of keeping the commitment. Most people want to know the benefit of change before they are willing to pay the price.
  5. Tell them how keeping the commitment has helped you. Personal testimonials make the benefits real.
  6. Express confidence in their ability to keep their commitments. Everyone does better at a task if they feel supported.
  7. Instruct them to write the commitment on something that they will see multiple times each day. The act of writing something and then reading it multiple times reinforces the commitment in their mind.
  8. Help them to admit when their actions have harmed themselves and others. This process helps them understand that there are real consequences if they fail.
  9. Follow up with them on a regular basis and discuss how well they are keeping the commitment. When someone has to report on their progress, they are more likely to keep a commitment.
  10. Have them describe the benefits they have seen in keeping the commitment. Verbalizing the benefits will help them see how much better their life is becoming and the future potential of their actions.
  11. Praise them for their successes. It is always motivating to have a cheering section.
  12. Give them something to read that will reinforce what they are trying to accomplish. Reading will increase their knowledge and give them more tools and more reasons to keep their commitments.
  13. Encourage them to surround themselves with supportive people and lose the friends with whom they shared their addictions. Since “birds of a feather flock together,” they need a new flock.
  14. Counsel them to ask God for strength. God will help anyone who is trying to become a better person.
  15. Don’t give up on them. Most people fail initially when trying to change. They are not used to keeping commitments because it is difficult.  With time, those who are truly motivated will be successful.

Scottish mountaineer and writer, William Hutchison Murray, wrote,

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”                                                       

If we, as employers, parents, friends, coaches and counselors want to help others, we must be committed to them and committed to being better people ourselves.  Our lives and their lives will be richer, healthier and happier.

It’s not what you say…

 

A39Communication is essential for a solid marriage, a healthy family, a successful soccer team and a profitable multi-national corporation.  It is the mechanism that creates synergy when people work together to accomplish a goal.  

In fact, no organization or relationship survives without proper communication.    

There are over 23,000 books listed on Amazon on the topic of communication, so communication problems are not a secret.  I will focus on one that hits close to home.

My wife tells me quite often, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.”  Sometimes, it is what I say that creates the problem but this article will deal with the “how.”  

The concept of “it’s how you say it” applies to all communication.  I will use a husband and wife as an example, but the principles apply equally to communicating with teenage children, with your kids’ teacher or with your boss at work.

Assuming that you know what you’re talking about and have the ability to express yourself adequately, communication will improve when you consider:

1.  Does the tone of my voice indicate what I am trying to communicate?

No matter what I am thinking or feeling, if the tone of my voice is not appropriate to my wife, my ability to communicate with her is drastically diminished.  It helps me to take time to decompress from work or an intense situation before interacting with her so that my emotion doesn’t spill over to our conversation.

2.  Is the volume of my voice appropriate?

The volume of one’s voice is sometimes hard to gauge.  Using the reaction of another can be a good indicator of your volume, but that could be too late.  Consciously try to soften your voice, unless you are warning of danger. 

3.  Does my body language show that I am interested to communicating?

The best way to engage another in a conversation is to begin with a smile.  When we were dating, I would never have thought that scowling would be the best way to impress my future wife.  The same applies to the message you send if you talk to another with crossed arms and a haughty look.

4.  Do I maintain eye contact when speaking?

If the eyes are the windows of the soul, avoiding eye contact will give the impression that you are hiding something or that you simply are not interested.  You might have something important to say but if you do not maintain eye contact, your message could be lost.

5.  Do I avoid sarcasm?

Sarcasm is the language of arrogance and/or ignorance.  It can be used for humor sometimes, but you have to use caution.  Sarcasm usually ends sincere communication.

6.  Is my silence appropriate?

Silence can be a useful communication tool.  When I am pondering what has been said, it shows respect for the other person and their opinion.  However, I know bosses that use silence to intimidate employees.  In a marriage, the silent treatment never leads to resolution of a problem.

7.  Am I responding to the concerns of the other person?

If I eloquently speak about a problem with my wife, but it is not the problem that she sees, I have failed. Being responsive to the other person is infinitely more important than eloquence. 

8.  Will my relationship with the other person help or hinder the communication?

You can’t fake “sincere” with people who know you.  Often, you can’t fake it with anyone else.  But, if we have the proper relationship with others, we can effectively communicate, even if we don’t express ourselves well.

 

The “how” is just as important as the “what” when communicating.  Here is a simple example.  We have all been complimented.  We all know that the same words spoken by different people have very different meanings.  Someone can say, “I love you” and it melts our heart.  Others can say the same words and we know it is just hollow nonsense spoken only because it sounds nice. 

As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  The best way to overcome that illusion of communication with our spouse, child, neighbor or boss is to consider carefully not only what we want to say but how we say it and how we can increase the trust in our relationships.  As a result, our relationships will not only survive, they will thrive.

The Christ of Christmas

the-second-coming-39618-wallpaperChristmas is a wonderful time of year to be a child.  There are bright decorations, lots of goodies to eat and the anticipation of gifts under the Christmas tree.  Christmas is also a time when families come together to make wonderful memories.  As adults, we would enjoy Christmas much more if we were more childlike.   

Christmas is sometimes a time of loneliness and pain for those who have lost loved ones or whose loved ones are far away.  There are also those who are estranged from their families.  They see happiness and celebration all around them but they feel isolated and depressed because they do not have the joy of others.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we should be sensitive to those who need our support at this time of year.

Preoccupation with trivialities often becomes The Grinch that Stole Christmas and we can become more childish than childlike.  Parents are often burdened with concerns over the cost and likelihood of meeting everyone’s expectations.  As December 25th draws closer and closer, time constraints can become the source of stress that makes us forget the purpose of the celebration.  We then become victims of, and not joyful beneficiaries of; shopping for gifts for loved ones, decorations, elaborate meals, office parties, school programs, concerts, family traditions, etc. 

Easier said than done – but we can choose to simplify, enjoy the festivities, spend time with loved ones and focus on the Savior.  Jesus Christ is the foundation of true happiness and “the gift” of Christmas.  Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can help people find, “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is central to individual peace on this earth and eternal happiness. 

virgin-164076_640One of the most popular images of Christmas since the Renaissance is that of Jesus being held by his mother, Mary.  It is a tender reminder of the love of a mother for her precious child, even though he was also the Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah.

 

 

572px-Michelangelo's_Pieta_5450_cropncleaned_editAnother memorable image of Mary and Jesus Christ is that of the Pieta, by Michelangelo.  In this remarkable sculpture we see Mary again holding her son but, this time, she is holding the lifeless body of he who had just sacrificed himself for all mankind.  He paid the price of our cumulative sins and surrendered his mortal life.  The sculpture captures both the human and the divine aspects of Christ’s life.

The image that is the most important for us mortals to have affixed in our minds is not Christ on the cross; it is the resurrected, glorified and deified Redeemer.  It is an image of power and strength, brighter than the noon-day sun: The omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and all-loving God of us all.

This Christmas, let us focus on enjoying life and our family traditions.  Most of all, let us remember the three images of Jesus Christ.  All are essential but the reality of the resurrected Savior is the most important.  He reigns in heaven and He is focused on each and every individual on earth.  He loves me and He loves you and will grant us the peace that exceeds all understanding, if we only allow Him.



Money Is A Big Deal

 

A94Many say, “Money is the root of all evil.”  On the other hand, Mark Twain said, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”  While each statement has its arguments, the apostle Paul is more accurate, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10).  The love of money leads to selfishness, pride and defiance.

Money matters because it influences almost every aspect of our lives; therefore, it is imperative that we distinguish when money is a curse or a blessing.

Money is a curse when it…

  1. Is used just to buy a lot of cool stuff. The philosophy that “The one who dies with the most toys, wins,” naturally separates us from others because, in this selfish state, we obsess about things rather than enjoying people.  The American Bar Association has determined that arguments over money are the most common cause of divorce in the United States.  Cool stuff will never be as fulfilling as loving relationships. 
  2. Is used to impress others. A desire for conspicuous consumption sells a lot of houses and fancy cars.  The downside is that impressing others is a phantom that cannot be captured, no matter how much money is wasted.  Parents must be cautious about how important money is to them, how they react when the money is in short supply and how they spend the money they have.  As my wife wrote, “Live where you are comfortable.  We could have moved to a country club neighborhood one time.  I said, ‘Not until we can keep up with the Jones’.  I don’t want our kids to feel like they are playing catch up.”
  3. Gives you power to boss around other people. It is the nature and disposition of almost all people that when they get a little authority; they want to control others around them.  It is a test of one’s integrity to have the wealth or position to impose your will and opinions on others but choose to be collaborative.  Using money to stroke an ego reinforces arrogance and is damaging to any relationship.  It also gives the person a false sense of importance.
  4. Makes you think you can do whatever you want. How to properly handle money is not intuitive.  Watching the personal failures of suddenly-rich pop stars and athletes is proof.  No one can have everything and no one is above the law.  Some rich people get more consideration than they deserve, but it eventually catches up with them, often with tragic consequences.  
  5. Allows you to live a life a drugs, sex and rock and roll. A lifestyle of unconstrained excess is almost impossible to maintain and makes it absolutely impossible to achieve fulfillment as a person.  No one knows what the future holds but history shows that hedonism always ends badly – the money runs out, illness and accidents occur or the aging process catches up.  When any of these happens, the person who had lived “to party” is just another empty shell of someone who could have achieved success and happiness.

 Money is a blessing when it…

  1. Provides a roof over your head. In 1942, Abraham Maslow established what he called the Hierarchy of Needs.  Based on his studies of accomplished people, he established that physical safety is needed before people can focus on higher achievements.  Money frees up time and concentration so individuals can develop to the full extent of their potential.
  2. Feeds and clothes your family. Everyone wants to have the basic necessities and some of the luxuries of life.  Money can solve a multitude of annoying problems that can impede other worthy pursuits.  It makes day-to-day living more enjoyable for everyone.
  3. Increases access to education. There is an abundance of evidence that education increases earning power and promotes an appreciation for the diversity of people and philosophies. These are all blessings to those who take advantage of opportunities for learning.  The potential downside is succumbing to intellectualism, an arrogance that can corrode clear thinking.
  4.  Expands your sphere of influence for good. A good person that has money can improve the lives of many people.  Money also influences politics and politicians, and can be beneficial as long as politicians are not allowed to be compassionate by spending other people’s money on their pet projects.  The actions of good people and good politicians can help create better lives for individuals and a better civilization.
  5. Gives the means to help others. Helping others in need is a fundamental principal of Christianity and of all worthy religion.  There is real joy in rendering service.  Making monetary contributions to good causes is commendable, but the measure of a man/woman is not how much money is donated.  It is how much service is given and how others are treated.  Money allows people more time to do good.  Some examples are; helping at an elementary school, taking dinner to the sick, paying attention to those who need to talk, serving in the local government, etc.  We also need to be in tune with God so we will be guided to take care of those who truly need our help, including those we meet on the street.

There must be a distinction made between loving money for selfish reasons and using money to do good.  Money does not have a personality of its own.  Its use can help or hurt people; do wonderful or horrendous things.  The same dollar bill can cause a murder or help the needy; it can care for the ill or buy addicting drugs; it can bring people to God or cause nations to go to war. 

Money matters because our happiness can be enhanced or destroyed by how we honor it.  The secret is that we value others more than we value money and we use our money to show what we value.

Money Essentials

A92I have played a game with my grandchildren where I give them choice of a piece of candy or a $1 bill.  When they choose the money, I know that their parents have begun the process of teaching that child about the value of money.  This, however, is just the beginning of the lessons that need to be taught.

Money will be a powerful force in the lives of our children.  They will not intuitively know how to handle it.  Parents have the responsibility to teach these basic money management lessons. 

  1. People are more important than cool stuff.

It is not the one who has the most toys that is happiest.  It is the person who has done the most with his or her life.  Happiness cannot be measured in terms of dollars, as popular philosophy teaches.  “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” — Helen Keller

As the Bible says, “The love of money of money is the root of all evil.”  We need to teach to value others more than we value money and to use our money to show what we value.

  1. Learn to delay gratification

If we want our children to be happy, we will help them understand this thought from Zig Ziglar, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”  That warning applies to more than just money.

Children typically want to spend money as soon as they get it.  “I have heard that money talks but when I give it to my kids, all it says is, ‘Good Bye!”  We must teach that money can often provide instant gratification, but that gratification leads to regret when they don’t have the cash to buy something that they want even more.

  1. There is a difference between needs and wants

If children are so coddled that they believe that all of their “wants” are “needs,” we have created an insatiable beast.  Some adults also have this problem and they usually end up in bankruptcy court.

When spoiled children get everything they want, they usually become ungrateful for what they do receive.  Ingratitude has its own set of problems.  Eugene Hansen gave this wise instruction, “It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge.  With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude, we return evil for good.”

  1. An allowance is not payment for doing household chores.

Giving the children an allowance is a good way to teach money management.  It also frees the parent from being constantly used as the kids private ATM.  You give them an allowance and then tell them to live within their means – a lesson that many never learn.

Since the parents provide the necessities of life and most of the wants of their children, children must be required to do something for the privilege of being pampered.  If you pay your kids to do their chores, you are setting yourself up for labor slowdowns and strikes.  You don’t want to have to negotiate with a child about whether he should pick up the family room, even if it is his baby sister’s stuff.

  1. Save money for improvement and opportunity.

Hopefully, our children will want an education to prepare to take care of themselves.  They should also want to prepare for marriage and having children of their own.  They must begin when they are young to save for these and other significant events so that they will see the value of these goals.

Children can be taught how to budget by keeping a spending log.  The spending log documents all the money they receive and where they spend their money.  This spending log will provide a basis for creating a budget.  Budgeting is a critical tool and practice in becoming a responsible adult.

  1. Comparison shop.

Learning how to shop is nearly as important as learning how to make money.  You can’t fill a sieve with water and you can’t earn more money than you can spend.

Children should be taught how to evaluate the options.  They need to distinguish between quality products and shoddy workmanship that appeals to the eye but doesn’t last.  They also must understand quantity discounts and the relative value of generic products.

  1. Use credit wisely.

Credit cards are not money.  Just because we have checks doesn’t mean we have money.  Just because we can qualify for a loan doesn’t mean we should borrow.  Borrowing for a house or an education might make sense.  Every other kind of debt should be avoided, if at all possible.

Buy only what we can afford.  Pay the credit card bill completely every month.  Let the kids know that staying out of debt, especially credit card debt, is very important to you.

  1. You can’t have everything.

Everyone must set priorities because no one can have everything.  Buy necessities, including insurance, and save a portion for luxuries and unforeseen expenses. No one knows what the future holds, but we must do our best to prepare for it. 

Kids must understand that an automobile is the ultimate money eater.  Almost every teenager has found a “great deal’ on a used car.  They have the money to buy the car but they don’t even think of the cost of gas, insurance, repairs, etc.  Many have purchased a car only to become its slave.  They neglect school, church and other responsibilities because they have to work to pay for the addiction. Cars are big tin holes you throw your money into.

  1. Help others.

Starting at an early age, children must know that you use some of your money to help others.  Talk to them about paying tithing to your church, supporting the homeless center or helping a relative who lost his/her job.  Being charitable is the best way to overcome selfishness.

  1. Learn the basics of economics

Help your kids understand the fundamentals of capitalism, socialism and taxation, the pros and cons of big government, and the law of supply and demand.  Without understanding these concepts, our children will be wrongly influenced by those who have never had to make a profit, be accountable for a budget, or live within their means, and that money can corrupt people and organizations. 

Since money influences almost every aspect of our lives, parents must be cautious about how important money is to them, how they react when the money is in short supply and how they spend the money they have.  As you contemplate your child’s future, think about the words of Alexander Graham Bell, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”