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Archive for the ‘James’ Category

Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 02:08 PMKarl Bastian

Dads are good talkers. We are full of advice, correction, answers, suggestions, instructions, and on and on and on.

But there is a problem when we are talking. We aren’t listening. Perhaps you have heard it said, “God gave you two ears and one mouth so you would listen twice as much as you talk.” While I’ve not been able to find that in the Bible, God’s Word does say:

Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
– James 1:19

I don’t think it is a coincidence that anger is included in this verse. Often our talking can lead to anger, if our talking is lecturing or correcting. If you must talk, start with a question. If your child doesn’t immediately answer, don’t assume they don’t have an answer. It may be that they have learned that if they don’t answer, you’ll start speaking. Instead, allow that awkward silence to linger. It will be as uncomfortable to them as it is for you. If you don’t fill it, they will! Keep asking questions.

Listen.

Listen some more.

And then listen a little bit more.

In time, you may be asked a question. Keep your answers short, and they will be more likely to remember the wise and amazing things you have to say. If you really want to share something, ask if you can share something with them. Gaining permission will increase their listening.

Bottom line – listening leads to learning, and we need to learn as much as we can about our kids if we are to help them learn and grow and mature.

You’ll also keep your foot out of your mouth by starting with listening. Perhaps that is why the Bible wisely says,

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
– Proverbs 17:28

So the next time you are about to wax eloquent, resist. And see what you can learn by listening instead.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 @ 01:11 PMKarl Bastian

What is one of the things that dads are usually worried about? Finances – right? Paying the bills, planning for the future, preparing for the unexpected and providing financial security for the family. That’s why dad is the one always complaining about the lights being left on around the house! No one seems to understand how hard dad works to chase that last dollar! When kids want something, dad looks at it in financial terms. He sees it in comparison to what else those funds could purchase. If a child wants a toy that costs $20, Dad knows what percentage of a family meal a toy that is!

But let’s look at generosity from the perspective of a child.

Dad, your love for you kid(s) is not in question here. That’s assumed, so let’s remove that from the conversation. Let’s assume no other dad loves their kid(s) more than you do! But how is that love communicated to them?

Sure, you SAY you love them when you see them off to school, give them a hug, or tuck them in at night – but the reality is, children need tangible expressions of love. A kid thinks, “I hear you say you love me, but I need to see it.”

Bottom line, gifts show kids you love them.  Period.

Some parents want to limit gift giving to birthdays, holidays and special events so they “stash” gifts for those special times – and rightly so, those times should be special! But at the same time, gifts are expected at those times, so the impact is actually lessened. It’s like giving your wife flowers on Valentine’s Day. She expects it, so the romantic point value is about 1. Flowers on an average day is about 47 and might lead somewhere! It’s the same with children. Almost dying of a heart attack and having a stent put in made me realize I don’t want to die with a bunch of toys in the closet that I was going to give my son – I want to see the look on his face when I give them to him. Today is the day I want to bless him. I also realized, I am blessing myself all year around. New clothes, new tech gadgets, new magazines and books – things that I enjoy, why should he have to always wait until some special date on the calendar?

The Bible says:

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
– Luke 6:31

While my son can’t “do to me” when it comes to gift giving (he has no money) – the principle is that I can to do to him “as I do unto myself!” I buy myself whatever I want (assuming I can afford it.) He lacks that ability. So my child is at my mercy when it comes to his desires. He can only come and ask me. I must do unto him, as I would like him to do, if I was at HIS mercy for the things that I want! What a thought!

Generosity always pays back richly! When we are generous, we show love. It is a tangible expression of love to our children. When we withhold, we often miss an opportunity to show love.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
– Proverbs 11:24

The Bible often speaks of the benefits of generosity. The joy we see on our child’s face when we give a gift is delightful to behold. Obviously, the gift needs to be a “gift” and not an expectation. That means sometimes saying “no” if the child asks with a bad attitude or with a presumption of receiving. But a good father can train his child to ask respectfully and to accept a “no” respectfully, and can also learn to sneak those purchases to give later as a reward for good behavior as a teaching point. However, a skilled father can also learn to give before the child even asks – that is what our Heavenly Father does for us!

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
– Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13

See, God expects us to give good gifts to our children! He used this twice in the Gospels as an illustration of how He too loves to give us gifts when we ask him. Gift giving is one of the strongest love languages of children – and children are not concerned with the price tag (or the brand name) but only that it came from you, and that you cared enough to give it. My son will surprise me by telling me for every toy who gave it to him and when, even years after the gift was given, and even for the most apparently insignificant toy! He knows who loves him by the gifts they have given him. Words mean a lot to us, but children need those words backed up with something in their hands. In child development lingo, we call that being “concrete relational.” Children are not capable of abstract conceptional thinking. If they can’t touch it – it isn’t real. “Love” is an abstract concept. You need to bring love into the real world so they can touch it. Gifts can be touched!

Perhaps that is why God described every gift we get as coming from our Heavenly Father:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
– James 1:17

When our children look back our their childhood – we want them to remember a father who paid the bills and provided a home and financial security, yes. But we also want them to remember a dad that never was so preoccupied with the burdens of money that there wasn’t enough for the simple joys of childhood. You always have enough money to get your kid a candy bar or a milk shake or that plastic Godzilla at Costco that he has his eye on. And no, he doesn’t have to wait till Christmas. It’s too far away.

Today is the day to show your kid you love them with a gift.

Be known to your children as a generous dad. That is the legacy you want to have. And the harder it is, the more it will mean to them in the years ahead.