Helping Children Resolve Conflict

None of us are comfortable with conflict and confrontation, although it’s a part of our daily lives.  There can be conflict between spouses, siblings, employees…everyone.  Even though we try to avoid confrontation, we still find ourselves facing conflict.  The Bible tells us why there is conflict.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1)

As humans, we selfishly want our own way.  Knowing this weakness, we must be careful how we respond to others when there is disagreement.  We can stengthen a relationship or break it.

Conflict today has taken on a disturbing trend.  It is no longer name-calling, harsh words or black eyes.  Now, there are school shootings, brutal beatings, drive-by shootings and  Facebook bullying.  There are many indications in our society that we are a culture in conflict.  Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for innocent children and adults to be randomly attacked by others.  We are exposed to hatred, prejudice, and violence and we see increasing evidence that there is little regard for human life or the rights and properties of others.

There are many role models in your child’s life, but you are the most powerful role model.  Your child will follow your example in attitude and behavior.  The way you treat each other, talk to others outside the family, and the way you handle conflict and anger, greatly affects how your child will handle relationships and disagreements throughout his/her lifetime.  Your child learns values and beliefs from you and these are shaped in childhood through your instruction and the way you live your life.

Identify and list some of your values and beliefs.  Share these with your child.

As a parent, it is important to:

  • Model responsible behaviors and attitudes daily.
  • Share your family’s values and beliefs consistently.
  • Practice positive conflict resolution skills.
  • Demonstrate respect for different beliefs and cultures.
  • Talk with your child about injustice, prejudice, and violence.

In prior generations, it was thought that parents should never have an argument or  conflict in front of their children.  However, we understand that it is beneficial for a child to see mild conflict between parents and observe the way they resolve the disagreement.  It’s important for your child to see that you can disagree and still love and respect one another.  Disagreements of a more serious nature can be discussed behind closed doors.

How did your childhood family resolve disagreements or conflict?

If there is a conflict or disagreement between you and another person:

  • Make sure the disagreement is worth fighting for.
  • Recognize that you can disagree and still respect each other.
  • Choose a calm time to discuss the issue and listen.
  • Stick to the issue.
  • Avoid the use of the words such as “You always” or “You never”.
  • Compromise, negotiate and work together.
  • Keep in mind that there should be no losers.
  • Be willing to forgive.
  • End the conversation with affection.

As you model the above responses to conflict, you are teaching your child how to handle disagreements with others in positive ways.

In our society, anger is generally present during conflict.  Anger is normal and can motivate us to do something good.  However, when it is expressed negatively in aggressive and violent ways, anger becomes harmful.  So, if you find yourself getting angry, try some techniques to help you calm down in a “highly-charged” situation.

DO

• Relax…take a walk, breathe

• Try to understand why you are angry

• Try to compromise and negotiate after you’ve calmed down

• Seek professional help when you and another person cannot resolve a disagreement

DO NOT

• Lose control

• Make accusations

• Avoid the issue

• Pout

• Get personal

• Get even

In spite of one’s efforts, some people insist on remaining angry.  Try to understand why the other person is angry.   Listen and encourage the other person to talk about the conflict and try to find a place of compromise.  Teach your child how to handle situations when someone is determined to stay angry.

Conflict is often promoted through media exposure.  Researchers are finding that violence in TV, movies, video games, toys, and music encourage conflict.   As a parent, it is your responsibility to monitor your child’s use of media. 

Consider these sobering facts:

  • U.S. children watch an average of 3-5 hours of TV per day. When they graduate from high school, they have watched 20,000 hours of TV as opposed to being in school 13,000 hours. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • The average child or teen has seen 10,000 murders, rapes, and aggravated assaults on TV each year. (American Psychological Association)
  • Children’s TV shows contain about 20 violent acts each hour. (Gerbner, University of PA)
  • American television and movies are the most violent in the world. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Violence on TV is portrayed as funny and painless. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Over 1,000 studies indicate that a large amount of time watching violence increases the likelihood of aggressive behaviors, particularly in males. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Children tend to be less sensitive to the suffering of others, are fearful of the world, and choose violence to settle conflict.

(American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Mental and physical violence in the home, as a result of conflict, has a negative impact on children.  Even if children are exposed to violent behavior one time, that experience can affect sleep patterns, behavior, and more.  Children who are traumatized with violence repeatedly are emotionally effected.  They may become fearful, hostile, or distrustful.  Children will likely mimic the same behavior that they see in their homes toward siblings and peers, as well as their future spouses and children.

The way we resolve conflict is shaped when we are very young.  Your child will be more skillful at resolving conflicts when you begin teaching him/her resolution skills early. Give suggestions to help your child resolve disagreements and immediately stop physical and verbal abuse.

Teach your child STOP! This reminder is good for parents, too!

S  Slow down and identify the problem

T  Talk and listen to each other

0  Be open to the other person’s point of view

P  Have a plan that is agreeable to both of you

Conflict is natural to humans and there are many signs of conflict in our society.  But, in spite of what happens in society, our families are to be a testimony of God’s love.

By teaching good values, based on God’s principles, and by helping your child develop good conflict resolution skills, you will create a loving environment in your home and prepare your child with the skills needed to be a strong person of influence within the society.

Try Something New

Practice STOP! during times of conflict in your own relationships.  Teach it to your child.

Verses for Encouragement

Seek peace.

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

(Matthew 5:9)

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  (Romans 12:18)

Restore relationships.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  (Colossians 3:13)

Value others above yourself.

Be like-minded, have the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Don’t do anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but the interests of others.  (Philippians 2:2-4)

Live a life pleasing to the Lord.

Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)

Managing Stress in the Family

By definition,  stress is a “state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in one’s life or work.” It can be caused by difficult or very overwhelming circumstances.  Stress is not unique to this generation, but it’s more prevalent today than in former generations. Stress comes from everywhere; outside the family and within the family.

  • Stress can be caused by outside influences such as the economy, world, national, and local events, careers, schedules, schooling, and childcare.
  • Predictable changes, such as those experienced during the holidays, create stress.
  • Unexpected events, such as illness, death, relocation, separation, financial burdens, homelessness, and pregnancy, cause stress.
  • Developmental changes with a parent or child often cause stress. Examples would include a 2-year old exerting independence, teen mood swings, aging, or changes in parent direction.

Each of these stressors can affect the family as a unit and each member individually. Everyone responds differently to stress, whether physically, emotionally, or behaviorally.

Look at the categories of stress above.  List current areas of stress in your life.  Describe your responses to these stressful events.

We often think that children are “adaptable” to any situation and don’t experience stress.  But, children experience a great deal of stress and today’s children experience more than in past generations. It is estimated that one million children between the ages of 5 and 15 now have mental health problems.  If a child experiences long periods of stress, depression and a general sense of anxiety can result.  Approximately, 35% of children suffer from stress-related health problems at some point in childhood.

Each child is affected by stress in different ways.  A strong child reacts more strongly to stress and an easy-going child reacts much less.  Children between the ages of 9-14, are at the greatest risk for stress and its effects.

In your opinion, why do children, ages 9-14, experience the greatest amount of stress?

KidsHealth© recently asked children what caused them the greatest stress.  Kids revealed that they experienced anxiety over grades, school, and homework (36%), family (32%), and friends, peers, gossip, and teasing (21%).

Children who experience trauma are exposed to even greater amounts of stress.  This level of stress, produced by a very difficult or unpleasant experience, has a devastating effect on a child’s development; mentally, emotionally, behaviorally, psychologically, and cognitively.  If trauma continues over a long period of time, the fear associated with a traumatic event changes a child’s patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.  It is recommended that one seek professional help for a child who has experienced childhood trauma.

In this lesson, however, we will look at children who experience common childhood stress, as indicated by the KidsHealth© survey.  Among the children surveyed, the following strategies were used to cope with stressful situations.

  • 52% play or do something active
  • 44% listen to music
  • 42% watch TV or play a video game
  • 30% talk to a friend
  • 29% try not to think about it
  • 28% try to work things out
  • 26% eat something
  • 23% lose their temper
  • 22% talk to a parent
  • 11% cry

About 25% of the kids surveyed hurt themselves in order to handle stress. Hitting, pinching, or cutting themselves was coupled with other unhealthy coping strategies, such as eating disorders.

Sometimes kids do not know how to handle feelings of stress, frustration, helplessness, hurt, or anger.  Without a way to deal with overwhelming feelings, children resort to desperate methods to express themselves.  Sometimes children see themselves as the one to blame in an existing situation.  In order to cope with the blame, children often feel the need to hurt themselves.

Be alert to the common symptoms of stress in children.  Below is a partial listing of those symptoms.

  • Irritability
  • Increased crying and whining
  • Sleep Problems
  • Acting out
  • Increased fears
  • Stomachaches and headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing schoolwork
  • Withdrawing or spending a lot of time alone
  • Defying authority
  • Overreacting to minor problems
  • Clingy behavior
  • Changes in academic performance
  • Anger, aggression
  • Trouble getting along with others
  • Thumb sucking, hair-twirling, nose-picking
  • Lying

Do you see signs of stress in your child’s life? What do you feel is the root cause of your child’s stress?  How are you responding to your child’s stress?

Sometimes, we respond to our children in the same way our parents responded to us during times of stress.

How did your childhood family deal with stress? Do you handle stress in the same ways?

You cannot shield your child from normal hardships and challenges.  To do so would not allow your child an opportunity to develop healthy ways of coping with stress and dealing with life.

Children want parents to help them during times of stress.  As parents, it is important to listen, spend time, and talk with your child about ways to handle a stressful situation.  It is the responsibility of the parent to teach his/her child healthy ways to cope with stress.

Many of the following ideas will help you support your child in times of stress and build connection. Your child’s greatest protection against stress and its effects is a secure attachment with you.

  • Set aside time each day to play and talk.
  • Be a good listener.  Ask questions.  Avoid the urge to blame, pass judgment or tell your child what he/she should have done.
  • Comment on your child’s feelings so that he/she knows you were listening and understand.
  • Label your child’s feelings so that your child has the words to express anger and frustration appropriately.  Let your child know that feelings are normal.
  • Be available.
  • Give your child time to calm down before talking together.
  • Speak words of encouragement.
  • Practice patience.
  • Reduce crowded schedules and simplify his/her life. Your child may be too busy.
  • Maintain a sense of structure and routines.  Remember, structures create a feeling of safety.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep and exercise.
  • Encourage your child to eat nutritional foods.
  • Help your child explore healthy ways of relieving stress.
  • Designate a quiet spot or enroll your child in a stress-relieving activity, such as art, music, or sports.
  • Read the Bible with your child.  Memorize Scripture together about God’s love and care for each member of your family.  Be thankful.  Pray with your child about things that concern him/her.
  • Seek help if your child’s change in behavior persists or if increased stress levels are causing significant problems in home or school.

You can’t fix all of your child’s problems. Instead, your goal is to help him/her learn to be a good problem solver.  You want your child to know how to deal with life’s ups and downs, put feelings into words, stay calm, and be able to bounce back and keep going. You want your child to feel capable of resolving his/her own problems and practice healthy ways of reducing stress levels.

Remember!  You are your child’s greatest teacher.  You are the role model for your child in demonstrating positive ways of dealing with stress in your own life.  It’s difficult to teach your child how to manage stress when you are not able to manage stress yourself.  When you are able to handle life’s stressful moments in healthy ways,  you teach your child how to do the same.

Below are some suggested ways to manage your stress as an adult and thereby, help your child.

  • Get rest, exercise and eat healthy foods.
  • Take time to relax and play.
  • Pray. Read God’s Word.
  • Be part of a support group.
  • Eliminate the unnecessary things in your life. Don’t try to do everything.
  • Set reasonable expectations for yourself and your family.
  • Spend time with positive people.
  • Learn to recognize what you can control and what you can’t.
  • Don’t try to control the actions of others.
  • Recognize anger in yourself and address it.
  • Talk to a trusted friend.
  • Seek professional help, if necessary.

Try Something New

Try a technique to reduce stress in your own life.  Teach your child how to reduce his/her stress using this same technique.

Pray with your child about those things that concern him/her.  Memorize a Bible verse that addresses his/her anxiety.  Show thankfulness for God’s love and His care.      

Verses for Encouragement

Stress is common to people.

Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.  (I Corinthians 10:13)

God is your strength in times of trouble.

I am your safe place. I am your strength. I am with you when you are in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Trust the Lord to help you.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:9, 10

God will give you peace in your circumstances.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

 

 

About the Poll

The national KidsPoll surveyed 875 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls regarding how they coped with stress. The KidsPoll is a collaboration of the Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth, the Department of Health Education and Recreation at Southern Illinois University — Carbondale, the National Association of Health Education Centers (NAHEC), and participating health education centers throughout the United States. Those centers include:

  • Robert Crown Center for Health Education — Hinsdale, Illinois
  • HealthWorks! Kids Museum — South Bend, Indiana
  • Health World Children’s Museum — Barrington, Illinois
  • Ruth Lilly Health Education Center — Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center — York, Pennsylvania
  • Poe Center for Health Education — Raleigh, North Carolina

The Power of Self Control

Self-control is a fruit of the spirit talked about in the Bible. Self-control refers to the ability to govern one’s own actions, words, and decisions. Being able to choose wisdom over wants or desires shows self-discipline and maturity. Proverbs 25:28 says that a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Having no walls leaves a city unprotected and defenseless. A life without self-control is one that invites potential trouble or difficulties.

How does one get more self-control? One way is to set long-term goals. Once we can see a long-term goal, the small temptations do not seem to have the same strength as they did without a goal. 1 Corinthians 9:25 says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but to get a crown that will last forever.”

Another way to develop self-control is to do everything as unto the Lord. Knowing that what we choose will be pleasing to God will give us inner strength to do the right thing. Romans 12:1 say, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.”

Choosing to set our minds on noble and pure things can help us focus on the bigger picture. Philippians 4:8 reminds us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Refusing to dwell on negative things can help us keep our focus.

As we yield ourselves to the Spirit of God, we open ourselves up to the power of God. In 1 Corinthians 2:5 Paul says, “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” We need the power of God to overcome temptation, battles, and distractions.

The Bible commands us to walk in the power of God. Ephesians 6:10 says “finally be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” We cannot walk in the power of God and not have self-control. They go hand in hand. Living a victorious life means that we live surrendered to God, choosing to be self-controlled, and living in His power. Only then will we overcome.

 

Download Isik’s Prayer Guide to self-control and the power of God here!

 

 

Expressing Feelings and Emotions Appropriately

When we are born, we are “hard-wired” for basic emotions. These emotions include anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Adults learn to control these hard-wired emotions throughout life. However, children need help in learning to regulate these emotions, beginning in infancy.  You help by comforting your child when he/she is feeling overwhelmed by feelings.  When your infant is hungry, cold, fearful, lonely, or overstimulated, he/she can experience intense emotion and anxiety, resulting in stress.  Staying with your baby until he/she is calm is teaching your child how to manage his/her own emotions.

Other feelings, such as humility, forgiveness, hope, compassion, sympathy, patience, cooperation, and gratitude must be learned.  As your child gets older, you will need to teach him/her the words and meanings of these emotions.  In this way, your child will learn how to appropriately express emotions in adulthood and avoid becoming overwhelmed during stressful situations.

Generally, humans deal with emotions by suppressing them, verbalizing them, or acting out with inappropriate behaviors. Just like an overstuffed trash can, harmful emotions that are suppressed will eventually overflow, causing a person to express sudden anger or experience depression. Many illnesses can be attributed to suppressed emotions.

Expressing feelings through words is a positive way to share emotions.  Sometimes, a child does not have the words to describe his/her feelings.  As a parent,  you will need to teach your child the words to respectfully express an emotion or feeling.

Acting out through aggressive, angry behavior is never an appropriate way to express feelings.  Sometimes, there is an underlying problem that a child is unable to express in words, such as fear, worry or pain. Look for the child’s hidden messages.

Because anger is one of the most poorly handled emotions in society, we will take a closer look.  Helping your child handle anger is one of your most important jobs as a parent and one that requires your ability to manage your own anger.

Anger is a very intense emotion that is triggered by an event or interaction between people.  It’s a primitive emotion and is usually a response to pain or fear.

As we saw earlier,  we are hard-wired with this emotion at birth.  It’s a self-defense response and its purpose is to defend or protect us from danger.  If not handled properly, anger can result in broken relationships and guilt.  It is often the basis for depression and anxiety.  It can cause physical illness.  Anger can cause more heartache and destruction in families than any other emotion.

We see anger inappropriately expressed in several ways:

  • Through body reactions, such as facial expressions, sweating, tears, tantrums, or loss of self-control
  • Through verbal expression by means of screaming, cursing, or arguing
  • Through physical aggression, such as hitting, kicking, or throwing things
  • Through passive aggressive behaviors, such as uncooperative behavior, procrastination, forgetfulness, and stubbornness
  • Through depression, resulting in feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and suicidal thoughts

Families have different ways of expressing anger.  How was anger expressed in your childhood family?

Holding anger inside, or pretending that something doesn’t bother you can be very dangerous, resulting in depression,  dependence on drugs and alcohol,  eating disorders and health problems.  Heart attack, stroke, lowered immunity, or suicide are often attributed to suppressed anger.  In many families, the expression of anger was considered to be unacceptable, but we now know, that acknowledging and working through anger in appropriate ways, is better than keeping it inside.

Children, just like adults, can experience anger.  Below is a partial list of common causes for anger in children.

  • Moving
  • Feelings of being misunderstood
  • An overloaded schedule
  • Feelings of being ignored or unappreciated
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Repeated abuse or unjust treatment
  • Being forced to takes sides in a parental conflict

How can you help your child manage anger in positive ways?

  • Be a role model by expressing your own feelings in healthy ways.
  • Help your child identify his/her own feelings and provide words to express those feelings.
  • Be emotionally available to your child by spending time, using good eye-contact, touching, and focusing on your child’s needs.
  • Listen to what your child is saying.

As you listen attentively to your child, avoid

Denying his/her feelings. Example: “You don’t hate your teacher.”

Minimizing his/her feelings. Example:  “You’ll forget about it tomorrow.”

Talking him/her out of a certain feeling. Example: “There’s no such thing as a monster.”

Ignoring your child’s  feelings.

Reassure your child that he/she can say anything to you, but that it must be said with respect. It’s never appropriate to say mean and ugly words to you.  Give your child time to process his/her feelings and offer your child words to express those feelings.

Let’s look at the following examples.  Help your child use appropriate words to express his/her anger in certain situations.

“I feel angry about that rule.”

“I feel jealous of my brother.”

“I’m mad. The teacher was unfair.”

Use the words sad, disappointed, and frustrated in the sentences below to express feelings in healthy ways.  The first one is done for you.

“I feel sad that my friend is moving away.”

“I feel disappointed_____________________________.”

“I can’t_______________________________________.  I am so frustrated!”

Let’s look at the following examples.  Help your child use appropriate words to express his/her anger in certain situations.

“I feel angry about that rule.”

“I feel jealous of my brother.”

“I’m mad. The teacher was unfair.”

By giving your child words to express angry feelings,  you are training him/her to respond to emotions in healthy ways as he/she matures.

Below are some additional ways to manage anger in your family.

  • Be watchful at the first signs of anger.  Don’t wait too long to address it.  If too much time is allowed to pass, a person loses the desire to work through a conflict.
  • Plan ahead. Anticipate things that could create a conflict between you and your child and find a creative way to avoid them.
  • Allow yourself and your child to calm down before addressing an issue.
  • Speak calmly.
  • Be willing to ask forgiveness if you were too angry in dealing with a conflict.  Ask yourself, “Did I contribute to the problem by reacting in anger?”
  • Breathe and count to 10.
  • Exercise.
  • Encourage your child to write his/her feelings in a journal or draw a picture. This strategy is good for parents too.
  • Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom.
  • Seek help from a professional, if necessary.

Try Something New

Be an observer of your emotions and those of your child. Try to respond during stressful situations in a way that is calm and logical, rather than reactive. Think ahead.  Plan how you will respond in certain situations.

Verses for Encouragement

Learn how to manage your own anger so you can live the kind of life that pleases God.

James 1:20

For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Maintain a calm voice with your child during stressful situations.

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Work through conflict as soon as possible.  Don’t allow anger to control your life.

Ephesians 4:26

And don’t sin by letting anger control you.  Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

You are God’s Handiwork

As I woke this morning, the Lord whispered, “You are my handiwork.” Imagine! I am God’s handiwork! You are God’s handiwork! According to definition, handiwork is done, personally, by the hands of an artist; like a sculptor, weaver, painter, or craftsman. The Creator of the Universe, the One who made the Heavens and the Earth, personally took an interest in making me and making you. He made us with His own hands and oversaw every detail.

You [God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. Psalm 139: 13,15

We are not accidents. Even if we were born under tragic circumstances, the God of the Universe formed every intricate part of us. He loves us, no matter how we got here.

Why would God create us? He wants to love us. He wants us to love and experience Him. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants us to praise Him for all He has done.

An artist of great skill fashions an outstanding piece of work, and calls it a masterpiece. Upon completion of that masterpiece, he signs his work so that others know he did it. In like manner, God, our Father, calls us His Masterpiece and puts His signature on our lives. God admires His work, you and me, and delights in us.

There can be copies of a masterpiece, but there is only one original. There is only one of you, uniquely designed by God, who has gifted you with personality, skills, abilities, and desires. Only you can do the good things that He has planned for you long ago.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

You are God’s handiwork, His masterpiece. Thank Him for creating you and giving you special qualities. Ask Him to lead you into the life He has planned for you.

Majesty

By Keiko Chibana-Shinn | Rediscovering Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name… Matthew 6:9

Jesus says to us: I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. To many, this is an offensive concept. Once upon a time, it offended me. I would think, Why should there be just one way? There are so many paths, many beliefs, and many cultures. Can’t we all celebrate each other’s differences in belief? There is a certain truth to these thoughts, for God does celebrate our diversity for He is the Grand Maker of our individual identities and rejoices in the collective identity found within culture, language, and ethnicity. Learning about world religions and varied perspectives continually adds to our understanding and evolves us into a more integral people. For we are all unique but it’s clear that we all derive from the same foundational quest to find meaningful purpose in life.

Jesus struck me as truly unique in my personal quest to discover who I truly am. Jesus welcomes you to accept any perspective, worldview, mindset or religion. However, He assures us that there is no other who has the authority to reestablish the very fabric of your identity; to seamlessly graft you into the image of God through His paternal glory. He alone awakens your perspective on faith, love, and hope by fully reinforcing your identity through the fatherhood of God in Christ Jesus. You are sons and daughters of the Most High God. This is not a mere religion, worldview, or a 10-step program to become a better you. No, it’s holistic relationship that orients us not only to the Godhead-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but it’s a reunification and restoration of the forever Family of God. Jesus imparts to us the greatest gift humankind could ever receive. Jesus’ Words reveal it to us:

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me… Jn. 17:22-23.

Jesus knows what we are in need of and our greatest need is the presence and love of Our Father. That’s why His greatest mission on Earth was not to condemn us but to reveal the love of our Father to us. Jesus responded to His disciples when asked about how to pray: “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven” He didn’t address the Father as His own but addressed God as Our. Father. Prayer is about rediscovering your identity as a child of God. Jesus makes it simple, when we enter into a time of conversation with God, we are to embrace Him in the confidence that God is as much our Father as He is Father to Jesus. Jesus affirms this by ultimately saying, My Father is your Father. What is Mine is also yours. We are to receive the love of the Father and come to know what His love imparts to us for our daily living.

Jesus’ initial teaching about prayer begins with a familial tone of belonging, a loving relationship, and of divine protection and possession. The Father’s love is ours. What more could we need? He loved us so much that our Father delivered up the centerpiece of His love, His Son for us that we could enjoy the richness of His loving devotion and splendor.

Everything God creates is meant to be filled with purpose and identity. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He comes to keep you in void and in a perpetual state of lack. But God, for His children, He endures in faithfulness to all generations. The Lord’s heartbeat is for none to perish but for all to gain abundant living under the protection of His will so that life can continue to prosper as we lay down our lives for the good of others.

A little bit of Jesus can go a long way in our lives. The vastness of our God is too great to comprehend for all of heaven’s power is found in the supremacy of Christ. Who can measure the greatness of our God? For is it not He, God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it? With all His omnipotence, Jesus chooses to magnify the majesty of the Godhead through the fatherly attributes in humility and loving kindness. Jesus’ primary mission while on Earth was to lead us to the Father. Therefore, we cannot live the Christian life without the love of the Father.

The Fatherhood of God prospers us. Every area of our lives is to be influenced by His fatherly love. There is a well-known theory in the field of psychology that asserts all human beings have an inherent basic hierarchy of physical and emotional needs that are to be met in order to reach one’s full potential. Our Father fulfills each and exceeds our expectations by far. The Majesty of our God touches our physical life as much as our spiritual one. In His love there is safety, belonging, purpose, meaning, creativity to thrive, to innovate, and to empower one’s life to motivate another. If that were not enough He lavishes His love by instilling in us everlasting life to flow through us by His power for today and for eternity.

Like any good parent, God wants us to live a life of blessed assurance that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. He wants every area of our lives to prosper, for us to be in good health, and for our very souls to prosper. Why? Because He is a Good Father and He believes in His children. Let us then reclaim our position as children of Our Father in heaven.

The Spirit of the Lord says to us today: The search is over. I Am here- always have been and will always be, for you. That is My promise. Receive a willing spirit to surrender your doubts and fears to Me. The love of the Father is being poured out upon you to break the orphan spirit that oppresses you through constant feelings of abandonment and rejection. Though your earthly mother and father reject you, I receive you as my own. My hands have made you, not by mere human decision or by human descent but by My will. I unleash My Spirit to restore your identity and I break the yoke of fear and doubt off you that you may receive my love, my power to live and to think with a sound mind in Jesus’ name. Receive the revelation of My love as your Father, today!

Additional Verses: Jn. 14:6; Acts 17:26; Gen. 1:27; Eph. 1:4; Jn. 3:16; Ps. 63:3; Jn. 10:10-11; Ps. 100:5; 2 Pe. 3:9; Jn. 15:13; Is. 42:5; Col. 1:15-23; Jn. 5:19; Ph. 4:13; 3 Jn. 1:2; Rev. 22:13; Ps. 27:10; Jn. 1:13; 2 Ti. 1:7

Discipline: Teaching Children Responsibility

As parents, our job is to instruct and teach our children.  God is our example as He teaches and instructs us as His children.

Psalm 32:8 reveals the heart of God.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 

Through the Holy Spirit,  God teaches us and shows us the ways that are best for us. He loves us and is always watching out for us.  This is to be our heart, too, as parents. We are the instructors for our children. We are to be loving counselors, who guide our children on the right paths.

List some of the dangers your child faces in today’s society.

In the 1940’s, researchers found that in spite of one’s income, level of education, intelligence, or cultural group, the happiest and most successful people were those who had learned the importance of responsibility in childhood. Children who are given responsibility at an early age have a higher level of responsibility in adulthood.

There are certain ages in a child’s life that provide the most teachable years for the development of a sense of responsibility.  The chart below provides some guidelines.

Developmental Stages of Responsibility

Age

Responsibility

Directed Towards

2 to 6 years

Obedience

  • Responding appropriately  to requests and home rules
  • Performing age appropriate chores and tasks
  • Caring for belongings

Parents

6-8 Years

Morality

  • Understanding how actions affect others
  • Respecting the rights of others
  • Developing appropriate attitudes
  • Recognizing and utilizing strengths and talents

Society and Peers

8-10 Years

Discipline

  • Making appropriate choices and understanding the consequences of those choices
  • Developing character traits (honesty, dependability, etc.)
  • Developing one’s potential

Self

10-12 years and beyond

Service

  • Serving family and community
  • Making commitments and keeping them
  • Contributing talents and abilities to society

Others

© 1997,2004 Practical Parent Education

This chart shows the type of responsibility that is reasonable for a child at a certain age. It also shows to whom a child is responsible.  As an example, starting at age 2 to 6, a child is primarily responsible for obeying his parents. At this age, your child is learning to obey you and the boundaries you’ve set.  He/she is also learning how to take responsibility for simple tasks and to care for his/her belongings.  As your child matures, he is learning to obey you, as well as others in the society, and to take greater responsibility for himself/herself. These stages are dependent on the child’s development and build on each other. In other words, what your child learns at 6 years of age, will lay the foundation for the next age group.

Aside from learning obedience and respect toward you and society, your child is learning to complete chores assigned to him/her.  Below are some suggestions for age-appropriate responsibilities for children at certain ages. These ideas come from Maria Montessori.

Ages 2-3

  • Put toys in toy box
  • Stock books on shelf
  • Place dirty clothes in laundry hamper
  • Throw trash away
  • Carry firewood
  • Fold washcloths
  • Set the table
  • Get diapers and wipes
  • Dust baseboards

Ages 6-7

  • Pick up trash
  • Fold towels
  • Dust floors
  • Match socks
  • Weed garden
  • Rake leaves
  • Peel potatoes
  • Make salad
  • Replace toilet paper roll

Ages 10-11

  • Clean bathrooms
  • Vacuum rugs
  • Clean countertops
  • Clean kitchen
  • Prepare simple meal
  • Mow lawn
  • Bring in mail
  • Do simple mending
  • Sweep out garage

Ages 4-5

  • Feed pets
  • Wipe up spills
  • Put away toys
  • Make the bed
  • Straighten bedroom
  • Water houseplants
  • Sort clean silverware
  • Prepare simple snacks
  • Use hand-held vacuum
  • Clear kitchen table
  • Dry and put away dishes
  • Disinfect doorknobs

Ages 8-9

  • Load dishwasher
  • Change light bulbs
  • Wash laundry
  • Hang/fold clean clothes
  • Dust furniture
  • Put groceries away
  • Scramble eggs
  • Bake cookies
  • Walk dogs
  • Sweep porches
  • Wipe off table

Ages 12 and Up

  • Mop floors
  • Change overhead lights
  • Wash/vacuum car
  • Trim hedges
  • Paint walls
  • Shop for groceries/list
  • Cook complete dinner
  • Bake bread or cake
  • Do simple home repairs
  • Wash windows
  • Iron clothes
  • Watch younger siblings

Demonstrate to your child the correct way to do something, such as making the bed or washing the dishes. As soon as your child learns a skill correctly, that skill becomes his/her responsibility.

Responsibility is learned through experiences that you are willing to give your child.

Allowing your child to ignore the completion of  assigned tasks or showing inappropriate behavior toward you or others,  encourages him/her to be irresponsible.

Make a list some appropriate responsibilities for your child’s age.  An example is done for you.

My child at age 3 can:

Put dirty clothes in the laundry

Set the table with child-safe materials

Your Turn:

My child at age _____can:

As parents, avoid:

  • Accepting excuses from your child
  • Making excuses for your child
  • Rescuing your child from a situation, unless it is dangerous
  • Doing for your child what he can do for himself
  • Giving into manipulation, such as, crying, complaining, yelling, or pouting

Encouraging independence in your child is a slow process that takes many years.  At the beginning of infancy, your child is completely dependent upon you.  Gradually, you provide experiences for your child to become completely independent.

You are the model for responsible behavior.  As you consistently show your child the benefits of hard work and the joy of completing a task,  your child learns the importance of taking responsibility.  You cannot teach your child something that you are not willing to do yourself.

Understand that your child will make mistakes and allow him/her to do something over.  Praise your child for good effort and enjoy this growth process.  These experiences will build your child’s confidence, competence, and good decision-making skills that are the building blocks for good emotional health and successful adult living.

Try Something New

Choose 2 tasks that are appropriate for your child’s age. Demonstate and practice these chores with your child.  Once your child understands how to do the task well, allow these jobs to become your child’s responsibility.

Verses for Encouragement

Be diligent to instruct your child for his/her best interests.

Philippians 2:4

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Be an example to your child in your attitudes and behaviors.  Model what you want him/her to be.  As parents, our model is Christ, Himself.

Ephesians 5:1-2

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.  He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Use the Bible as your guide for teaching and instructing your child.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Signs of Toxic People

There are people who we know who might be labeled toxic. How do you know if someone is toxic? How can you identify toxic behavior?

Toxic people have many traits in common. Most toxic behavior is designed to fill an emotional need. Toxic people have usually been through some type of trauma or neglect, and spend their energy trying to fill this seemingly insatiable need. Toxic people will manipulate people and situations to make themselves the focus of attention. If they do not receive the attention they so desperately need, the may become angry, sullen, or passive-aggressive.

Toxic people struggle to let others receive attention or accolades. This may be subtle or overt. They may take credit for a job well done or they may always have to have the last word or story.

Toxic people are usually controlling. They try to control every situation in order to steer the outcome in their favor, or make themselves look good. They fear giving control to another, knowing that their deep-rooted needs will not get met. They will use many different behaviors to control and manipulate a situation, even to the detriment of those that should come first, like their children, for instance. Toxic parents may manipulate their children so that they appear to be better parents than they really may be. Romans 16:17-18 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.”

Identify the toxic people in your life and learn how to establish boundaries with Isik’s downloadable guide.

It is important to realize that toxic people do not want to resolve an argument. They feed off of drama. They maintain power by keeping you emotionally off balance. If you interact with someone who continually drains you without resolution, it may be that you are dealing with a toxic person. Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”

What is the best way to handle toxic people? Establishing healthy boundaries with toxic people is crucial. Boundaries let others know what is expected and what behaviors will not be tolerated. Toxic people will have difficulty with boundaries, and most likely they will not respect them at first.  If a toxic person will not respect your boundaries, it may be that you need to cut all ties with them. Once they respect your boundaries, they can be allowed to interact with you again.

 

 

What is your mission?

Written by: Dr. Kim Jessie, DMin 

Mission Defined 

A Mission is an assignment, a calling, or a purpose that God gives you to help you accomplish the vision He has revealed (or is revealing) to you.  Mission and vision go together.  Vision offers the big picture of what could be, and mission identifies how to accomplish the vision.  It explains how you move forward to achieve the vision by providing the means, the methods, and/or the manners in which the work will be done to accomplish the preferred future. 

Importance of Identifying a Mission 

Identifying a mission from God focuses our work and frees us from unnecessary exertion.  Frequently, we involve ourselves in needless activity without thinking about why we are doing what we are doing.  Once we have a vision and a mission, we can evaluate what is important to vision accomplishment and what will hinder mission success.  This analysis allows us to say yes to the right things and no to the unessential activities.   

My vision is courageous leaders fully living out their destinies, and my mission is to encourage, equip, and empower leaders to be who God created and called them to be.  My role is to work in the areas of encouraging, equipping and empowering.  When an opportunity comes my way, I can immediately determine if it fits within my mission.  If I am asked to serve on a team to train new leaders, I can see how this fits within my God-given mission.  If someone invites me to organize materials in a storage unit, I can easily determine that this is not in my mission.  However, before saying yes to the first opportunity and no to the second one, I must first ask God if either is a part of His bigger plan for my life.  God’s permission supersedes a good mission opportunity.    

 A Simple Process for Identifying Your Mission 

God will never leave you nor forsake you.  When He provides you with a vision, He provides you with a mission to accomplish that vision.  Frequently, recognizing the vision takes prayer and time.  Other times, God reveals it immediately.  Likewise, the mission may take a process of prayer and time, or it can be revealed in a spiritual moment.  Normally, God allows us to have Jacob moments where we wrestle with what He is calling us to do.  This helps us identify what is from God and what is coming from our own personal wishes.  His way will be better every time. 

  1. Pray, ask God for verb words that are based on your gifts, talents and abilities 
  2. Narrow your verb words to 2, 3, or 4 key words 

(My words:  Encourage, Equip, and Empower) 

  1. Pray, ask God who/what you should work with  
  2. Make a list and clearly define it 

(My “who”: leaders) 

  1. Pray, ask God for the result you are working toward 
  2. Make this as concise as possible 

(My hoped-for result: leaders living into who they were called and created to be) 

  1. Write these up into an easy to remember statement 
  2. Be prepared to adjust as God reveals more possibilities to you 

 

Remember, this process takes prayer and time.  The statement can be adjusted until you are confident that you have identified what God created and called you to do.  Additionally, this first step may be the beginning of an adventure that will surprise and fulfill you.  Watch as God reveals your true potential. 

Questions for thought: 

  1. What are your God-given gifts, talents and abilities? 
  2. How are you using these gifts, talents and abilities to fulfill God’s mission for your life? 
  3. How can you help others discover their mission? 

More information on Mission Statements can be found in The Path by Laurie Beth Jones. 

Download entire worksheet here: https://goo.gl/XWvmB5

Discipline: Connecting with Your Child During Correction

Your responsibility as a parent is to discipline your child.  It proves that you love and delight in him/her.  This is the example set by our Heavenly Father when we are His children.  He disciplines us because He loves us.

My child, don’t reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the LORD corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.  (Prov. 3:11)

As a parent, you are committed to the process of correcting and teaching your child acceptable behaviors and attitudes.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with your child is important during correction.  Some strategies are better than others in accomplishing this.  Let’s look at some successful techniques from the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis and Love and Logic authors, J. Fay and F. Cline.

A.  Use words that connect you with your child. 

The Bible says, in Colossians 3:21,

Don’t embitter your children or they will become discouraged. 

“Embittering” means to make a person resentful, irritated, or hostile.  The way you say things to your child can build relationship or cause feelings of separation.  When you use ineffective discipline strategies, such as yelling, nagging, or harsh words, your child can become frustrated and angry.  When there are angry feelings between you and your child, learning stops, the relationship is damaged, and a negative atmosphere develops within the home.  As parents, you model the acceptable way of talking with one another.  In many cases, the way you speak to your child will be the way your child speaks to you.

Many times you can avoid a conflict or power struggle when you use the right words.  What and how you say something to your child can make a difference in the way he/she responds.

Demanding words, like the following, cause conflict and can create a worse situation.  These words are usually spoken in anger and frustration.

“Clean up your room NOW!”

“Get your homework done!”

“Don’t talk to ME like that!”

Instead, try using words that encourage your child to think about his/her decision. These words are spoken calmly and “matter of fact.”

“As soon as your room is clean, you can go play with your friends.”

“When your homework is finished, you can play video games for 30 minutes.”

“I’ll talk to you as soon as your voice calms down.”

When you use words that encourage your child to think about the results, your child begins to evaluate the consequences of his/her decision.

Your turn!  Rewrite the following phrases into words that will encourage your child to think about behavior. The first one is done for you.

“Stop fighting over that toy!” “Play nicely, or I will put the toy away until you decide to share.”

“Don’t argue with ME!” “I’m happy to_______________________________________.

“Quit bothering your sister!” _____________________.

B.  Allow your child an opportunity to make choices

As you can see in the above example, giving your child options, allows him/her to take responsibility for decisions.  Giving your child choices can be very uncomfortable for parents.  It’s so much easier to tell your child what to do, rather than involving him/her in some of the decision-making.  The goal, however, is to give your child practice in making good decisions.

Appropriate decision-making for a young child:

“Would you like an apple or banana for dessert?”

“Do you want to wear your red shirt or your blue one today?”

Appropriate decision-making for an older child:

“Do you want to play for 30 minutes, before, or after your homework?”

“All of us will take turns doing the dishes.  Which 2 days would you prefer?”

“You need to clean your room sometime before lunch.”

Here are some guidelines in offering choices.  Begin by offering two good choices to your child.  Since you have decided the choices beforehand, you do not have to worry about your child making a bad choice.  Both choices are good and acceptable to you.

Make a list some ways that you could give your child choices.

By offering choices you are helping your child develop decision-making skills and responsibility.  You are also sharing power and control with your child.  This is especially effective with an older child or a strong-willed child who wants freedom and control.  By sharing power and control, many conflicts can be avoided and a positive relationship maintained.  Give appropriate levels of control and freedom as your child grows older.  Start with a little freedom and increase it over time, as your child matures.

C.  Understand that your child will make mistakes.

Your child will make mistakes.  Use your child’s mistakes as teachable moments.  Give your child the opportunity, immediately, to practice the correct behavior.  By consistently practicing the right behavior, your child will eventually learn a new pattern of behavior.

When your child makes a mistake, don’t get angry.  Anger and harsh punishment are destructive and will keep your child from learning.  When you are angry about your child’s mistakes, your anger keeps him/her from paying attention to the real issue of poor choices.  Rather, his/her attention is on your anger.  Using criticism, rejection, and the withholding of love hurts the relationship between you and your child, too.  A child needs to know that your home is a “safe” place to make mistakes, because you are there to help him/her.  Your child needs to have the confidence that your love is unconditional.  You may not like the behavior, but you love your child.

Mistakes teach your child that:

  • His/her choices can hurt people.
  • He/she is capable of solving some problems, and you are available to offer suggestions.
  • You are confident that he/she will do the right thing.
  • There are alternate and better ways of behavior.
  • You are there as a guide and teacher.
  • Your love is unconditional.
  • You are committed to the relationship.
  • He/she can be forgiven.

D.  Allow natural consequences to do the teaching.

When your child makes the wrong choice, express disappointment, but allow your child to experience the natural consequences.

From our “family archives”:

Each morning, shortly after our 9-year old daughter arrived at school, the phone would ring.  She would ask me to bring her forgotten homework, lunch, or athletic shoes to school.  I would stop what I was doing and take the items to school.  One day, the teacher called to say that it was time that our daughter took responsibility for herself.  The teacher asked that I no longer bring her forgotten items to school.  Our daughter quickly learned that no homework meant a failing grade in the grade-book, forgotten athletic shoes meant that she couldn’t participate in the activity, and a forgotten lunch meant that she would eat when she got home.  She learned responsibility through natural consequences, with no dangerous results.

Naturally, if you think that your child’s life is in danger, take action.  You are the protector of your child’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Your turn! Write a natural consequence for the following situations.

a. The teacher has told your child not to bring toys to school. Your child secretly takes a   favorite toy to school and it gets stolen.

b. Your child borrows a sweater from a friend and it gets ruined.

E.  Use negotiation and compromise.

Parent:  I know that this is your night to do the dishes, but I see that you have a big test in math tomorrow.  How about a compromise? We can switch nights.  I’ll do the dishes for you tonight and you can do them for me tomorrow night.  Agreed?

Your Turn!  Describe a situation in which you could make a compromise with your child.

F.  Plan ahead

Sometimes, you can avoid a nasty situation all together.  Be observant.  Is your child hungry, thirsty, tired, or had too much activity?  Have you spent enough time with your child?  Physical and emotional needs can trigger wrong behaviors.  Know your child.

Be proactive.  Establish the expectations before you go somewhere new.  Anticipate normal childhood battles, such as food, bedtime, music, and homework, and have a plan in place. When we are surprised, we often overreact and make an irrational decision.

G.  Repair the relationship immediately after correcting.

Many times, after disciplining a child, angry or hurt feelings exist.  This is normal, because parents and children are human.  It is necessary to make every effort to reconnect with your child as soon as possible.  Having fun together or working together is a good way to connect after hard feelings.  Both of you can put the conflict aside and enjoy being together.  This takes a lot of time, but it’s worth the effort.

From our “family archives”:

Our daughter, during her teen years, had a very difficult time with school, friends, family, and God.  She had a lot of anger and we felt that our relationship with her, as her parents, was deteriorating.  We started to spend individual time with her and did things she particularly enjoyed.  We were able to forget the conflicts and concentrate on valuing one another.  The connection with our daughter began to improve and conflicts were fewer throughout the remaining teen years.

Try Something New:

Practice giving your child 2 good choices when a decision is to be made.  Allow your child the freedom to choose.  In this way, your child will soon begin to recognize what good choices look like and gain experience and confidence in decision-making.

Verses for Encouragement:

Provide Christian discipline and instruction

Ephesians 6:4

Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry.  Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction.

Use words that connect you with your child

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 

Restore the parent-child relationship after conflict

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

When You Love Someone

When you have a loving relationship with someone, you want to spend time with that person. You desire to know everything this person thinks and feels.  You ask questions and you listen.  You look forward to being together…..just the two of you.  You miss this person when you are unable to meet, and eagerly look forward to the next opportunity.

It’s the same in your relationship with Jesus. Once you begin a loving relationship with Him, you want to know everything about Him.  You look forward to your time together and desire to know what He thinks and feels. You ask questions and you listen.  You can’t wait to spend time with Him and you miss Him when you can’t.

Jesus said to His followers, “Come away with Me, by yourselves.” (Mark 6:31) God desires for you to find a place and time to be alone with Him.  During these quiet times, you have an opportunity to get to know Him.

Make it a priority each day to spend time with Him.  Use this time to read God’s Word and talk with Him. If you are a new Believer, a  good place to begin reading is in the book of John, located in the New Testament of the Bible.  John, one of Jesus’ disciples, traveled with Jesus and knew Him personally.  John records first-hand accounts of his time with Christ. In the book of John , you will glimpse the amazing love of God, who sent His Son to save us through His death on the cross.  Every chapter proves that Christ is God’s Son, and through His life, the character of God is revealed.  Jesus is God, in human form, and He shows us how to live a life that is pleasing to the Father.

Many things in life could disrupt your time to be together. Be determined to protect this time.  Plan ahead.  Put the time on your calendar.  As you sit down to spend time in God’s Word, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truths.  Ask questions and listen.  Ask God to give you spiritual wisdom and insight to grow in your knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)  He will meet you during these times and teach you. Your relationship with Him will deepen and grow. You will look forward, more and more, to this special time together.

Vision: The Big Picture 

Written by: Dr. Kim Jessie, DMin  

Many years ago, I was meeting with a leader who was struggling to accomplish his goals.  He was very tired, bordering on burnout and concerned that it might be time to leave his job and work somewhere less stressful.  Here is a synopsis of our conversation: 

Me:  How is it going? 

Leader: I am exhausted; I’m working so hard. 

Me: What are you doing? 

Leader: Everything!  You name it; I’m doing it. 

Me:  What are you trying to accomplish? 

Leader: What do you mean? 

Me:  What is the Big Picture?  What is your Vision?   

Leader: I don’t know.  I’m just working on everything that needs to get done. 

Me:  If you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish, how do you know what needs to get done? 

Leader:  Good question.  Can you help me? 

What is Vision Statement? 

Most of us have heard Proverbs 29:18 quoted, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (KJV) My leader friend had no vision for what he was trying to accomplish and was quickly working himself into exhaustion doing everything he thought needed to be done.  A vision is a picture of the finished product.  It is what you will have accomplished when you complete what you are doing.  It may be so big that you work years or even a lifetime to accomplish it.   

My vision statement is “Courageous leaders fully living out their destinies.”  As you can see, I can work on this vision daily for the rest of my life, because there will always be leaders who need help being courageous and discovering their God-given purpose (destiny). 

How to Write Your Vision Statement 

A vision statement is very personal.  It begins with understanding who God created you to be and broadens out to include what He has created you to do.  This process includes several steps: 

  1. Pray, ask God to reveal to you who you are 
  2. Identify your God-given values, personality, gifts, skills, and talents 
  3. Become familiar and comfortable with who God created you to be 
  4. Pray, ask God to help you see a picture of what could be 
  5. Read scripture, what Bible stories and scriptures support what God is telling you 
  6. As the picture becomes clearer, write down the key words  
  7. A vision may be for a season; so, be prepared to seek God for clarification or a new vision 
  8. Memorize your statement; so, you can remind yourself and tell others what you are created by God to accomplish 

What a Vision Statement Does 

A vision statement helps you identify what God intends for you to do with who He has created you to be.  We each have personalities, spiritual gifts, and special talents and abilities.  Knowing these aspects of ourselves is only a part of His design.  He intends for us to know and understand how we are to use these pieces of ourselves to fulfill His purpose in the world.  Our role in fulfilling His purpose in the world is the vision He gives us.  Your vision statement identifies your role now.   

When you are working on a team, the leader’s vision unifies the work of the team.  Each team member has a subordinate vision under the team leader’s vision.  Several years ago, I worked with a ministry team.  The team leader had an amazing vision of ministering to and evangelizing the lost and disenfranchised.  He shared with each team member how he saw them working as a team and as individuals in accomplishing the vision God had given him.  The big vision created excitement and unity as the team members discovered their own God-given visions to support the leader’s vision.  Within a few months, two of the team members realized that their visions did not support the team leader’s vision.  After much prayer and counsel, those two team members removed themselves from the team; so, they would not adversely affect the leader’s vision.  Had they remained on the team, their competing visions would have caused conflict on the team and hindered God’s work. 

Questions to consider: 

  1. What is God’s vision for your life? 
  2. How do you see your God-given values, personality, gifts, skills, and talents being utilized? 
  3. What does God want you to know about your vision? 
  4. How passionate are you about your God-given vision?