Gathering Together

                    5 Tools of Effective Families:

 

5 Tools of Effective Families: #5. A Relationship with God

 

The fifth and most important “tool” is a genuine relationship with God, both as an individual and as a family.

Writing about our relationship with God is extremely difficult. So let’s start with what it is not.

It is not:

  1. About attending church
  2. About giving money
  3. About being” good “
  4. About being religious
  5. About being condemning, condescending, or arrogant about one’s faith
  6. About religious activity, service, or lifestyle

What it is about could take up several pages of a blog.

But we’ll start with the following:

  1. Knowing and understanding God’s Word–the Bible–reading and meditating on it regularly
  2. Understanding and having a genuine salvation/saving relationship with God by faith in Christ
  3. Being a person who prays on a regular basis, who has two-way conversations with God
  4. Being a person who’s quick to repent, be humble, and truly make things right, admitting it when wrong
  5. Being a person who’s willing to serve others, even at their own expense
  6. Living an obedient life, not out of obligation, but out of thankfulness and deep gratitude for all God has done
  7. Allowing God’s full expression in me, in my thoughts, my deeds, my words, my motivation, my attitude, my resources, and so much more
  8. Being a person who puts my walk with God as my number one priority in life, through prayer, Bible study, praise, worship, sharing my faith, serving my church and community and fellow humans.
  9. Obeying God in the small stuff… being sensitive to details and doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
  10. Relaxing, taking deep breaths, simply appreciating the life and the love God has given me, realizing I can not add to this love. I can only respond to it by living in the moment, and being the obedient son He’s asked that I be
  11. Utilizing the gifts and the resources He’s given me in the way that He leads me to do so
  12. Having a heart attitude and disposition that seeks to glorify God in every aspect of my life

Much of this has to do with what I call a “heart attitude”, the core belief system that governs all behaviors, words, deeds, and attitudes.

It stems from the realization of all that God has done for me, is doing, and will do in the future. It comes from a heart of deep gratitude, which seeks to please, not repay, or pay penance, to the God who loves me and has given his all for my life and eternity.

It’s just this… fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and faithfulness, and self-control… against such there is no law.” These are the heart attitudes which demonstrate Christ’s likeness. They only come with a genuine long-term walk with him.

Be careful to understand that not speaking about perfection… we are all human, fallible, frail, weak, and prone to making all manner of mistakes. The giant difference is having a heart of repentance. It’s quick to humble, turn, pray, and make course corrections when we discover we have sinned against God or people. We need to be good repenters.

This doesn’t mean that everything is a bed of roses; in fact Christians suffer as much or more than others. The difference here is:” God works all things together for good for those who love him and for those who are called according to his purpose.” This means that even the worst challenges, problems, and disasters are actually blessings in disguise for trust God to work it all together for good. When a person can live this way, and a faith walk with God, all of life takes on a brand-new adventure and excitement, knowing that no matter what happens, I’m going to become closer and more like my Father in each and every situation.

This is the foundation for a great life, marriage and family. it makes for a stability, a joy, and the love that permeates a family and a marriage with the sweetness and a sanity that is rare and precious.

To call this Walk with God a “tool” is to misrepresent and underestimate what’s being written here.

This Walk with God is the life-giving, dominant feature of the dedicated Christian family and individual. With God at the vanguard of our lives, life really becomes worth living.

 

 

5 Tools of Successful Families: #4. Grace

Law or grace?

That is the question…

How do you deal with your children and those around you when you’re angry, frustrated, tired, and burned out?

Do you…

  • YELL and raise your voice?
  • Play the martyr and do the silent treatment?
  • Cuss and swear and scream?
  • Dole out corporal punishment in the name of training, control, and authority…

In other words, how to we use our authority?

When I talk about fathering, I think of how God the Father deals with me. And then I realize his kindness, patience, and love and see how short I fall as I deal with others…

God doesn’t always use a stick to beat us when we make mistakes… so why are we as fathers so quick to undress and apply the stick of punishment to those around us, especially our kids.

It’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to not like injustice, disobedience, immaturity, and some of the zany things kids do in their selfishness.

But what gives you and me the right when we are tired and frustrated to dole out law in the spirit of anger. Our Lord never modeled that type of authoritarianism. He did everything in love, including correction, chastisement, teaching, and encouragement.

You and I as men need to relearn authority. We need to not get caught up in the disciplinarian model and playing the heavy, which is so common in our society. We need to learn the authority of Jesus, based in love, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control.

We need to relearn the father heart of God, and how that applies to our leadership and authority over those for whom we have responsibility. We must be intentional and incremental in learning this model, as it will transform our parenting, and indeed, our lives.

So, the next time you’re faced with someone’s shortcomings, or your own, for that matter, what’s going to be different?

Will it be grace or law?

5 Tools of Successful Families: #3. Encouragement

Mastering the Art of Encouragement.

It’s amazing how everyone needs encouragement, but is so reluctant to give it.

It costs so little to give, but can yield such high dividends. We cannot afford to overlook this key life habit.

The investment of encouragement can truly build up ourselves, our kids, our spouses, and our communities.

Encouragement needs to be…

  1. Intentional. Offering encouragement takes extra effort and does not happen accidentally. We must be intentional if we are to be lifelong encouragers. This will mean having eyes to spot people doing things right…especially our children. To catch them doing something right and speak a word of encouragement is a powerful tool.
  2. Empathetic. Be especially attentive to the needs of your kids. What would it feel like if you were a child in the midst of embarrassment, disappointment, or discouragement? Think about how you would feel. Were you that child? Did someone encourage you? If so, great! If not, how can you make a difference by being an encouragement to both your kids and those around you in your world?
  3. Specific. Don’t just say “good job”, but rather provide details and specifics; showing someone that you’re paying attention can be encouraging in and of itself. Offer suggestions and remember that constructive criticism, couched in a spirit of encouragement, can be inspiring as a complement.
  4. Sincere. The word “sincere” is from the Greek meaning “without filler”. Encouragement must not be unmerited praise or flattery. Do not exaggerate a person’s competence, achievements, or potential. Being believable, authentic, transparent, and genuine will help you build trust.
  5. Prompt. Respond with encouragement as soon as possible and preferably face-to-face. Making positive comments publicly compounds the positive affect of encouragement. Some people would rather see it in writing, so jot them a note or an e-mail… these can be public as well.
  6. Thorough. Following up by writing a detailed letter with encouraging content can really uplift your children. E-mail is suitable for doing this as well, as kids are often more tech savvy than we. Putting words into writing not only reinforces oral comments, but also provides a tangible document. Your kids can save and refer to it at a later date for needed encouragement.
  7. Creative. Use your imagination when giving feedback, encouragement, or support and recognition for your children’s achievements. Be intentionally out of the box as your imagination figures out new ways to give creative encouragement. Some people like verbal support, others prefer written, some people like small gifts, and for some just spending time with them is all the encouragement they require.

Encouragement is a powerful gift, which we need to receive and give on a daily basis. Let’s be more intentional in giving it to our kids, as it will help them with the tools they need to become better adjusted, more well rounded and high achieving adults. Be encouraged to be a life-long encourager!!

5 Tools of Successful Families: #2. Expressing Yourself

Expressing yourself…

You may assume other family members know your needs, feelings, and opinions without you telling them.

But… relying on mind reading may result in…

  • Disappointment
  • Frustration
  • Resentment
  • Loneliness….or hurt…

Here are some guidelines for expressing yourself clearly…

  1. Describe your feelings… share your feelings with” I” statements. They build trust and relationships and they give you ownership of what’s being said…” I feel-______”

Say what you mean in a simple, direct way. I’ve found that honesty is always the best policy. People seem to resonate with honesty and being straight up with them. Be specific, rather than general. Resist the temptation to be a pleaser, always trying to tell people what you think they want to hear. This is a big mistake.

Here are some tips to use…

  1. Describe how other people’s behavior affects you without blaming. ” You” statements can stifle communication and create an accusatory atmosphere.
  2. Be aware of your nonverbal communication. Your body language gives you away every time. Be attentive to your face, tone of voice, and body language, because they communicate… far more than your words.
  3. Finding time. Perhaps the most important way to express yourself is to make time to communicate with your family. Making a conscience effort to carve out time to talk with each individual, and together as a family, is key to the relational health of your family. A family environment can provide a safe place for its members to share feelings, thoughts, ideas, theories, dreams, and hopes.

It is often family that is left out…during busy, hectic times, it’s especially important to plan a few minutes when everyone can be together, or when you can be alone with a family member without interruption. Be sure to save a difficult problem-solving conversation for times when you’re not totally tired or fatigued.

Many of us are verbal learners and need to process our issues and problems through talking. If you have kids or your spouse who is thusly wired, you would do well in heeding the advice above. People who learned this at a young age will be more likely to cope with stress as adults. Being able to discuss and vent angry feelings can keep those feelings from creating more severe problems such as alcohol or drug abuse, violence, mental illness, stress, depression, or other emotional problems.

Take the time and make the time to communicate today. This is an investment in your children that far outweighs money or possessions…

If not you, who?

If not now, when?

 5 Tools of Successful Families: #1.Listening,

The art of listening….

One of a human’s greatest needs is psychological survival, to be understood, affirmed, validated, and appreciated.

In other words, we need to be heard. It isn’t always easy, and we live in a busy world, and many of us spend our days in a time crunch.

But the experts agree, when we take time to listen we improve relationships, promote an atmosphere of cooperation and encourage creative thinking, and even save money by avoiding costly errors caused by miscommunication.

Active listening does not come naturally. Stephen Covey notes that when someone speaks, our initial reaction is to evaluate and scrutinize them… the opposite of what we should do.

Instead, we should focus on empathetic listening with the intent to understand and we must does this with the goal of helping…

There are four phases of empathetic listening, according to Covey…

  1. the first is to mimic content, repeating exactly what the speaker has said
  2. the second stage is to rephrase the content to what was said in our own words
  3. third, you may reflect feelings or make a non-judgmental statement about the speaker’s emotions, empathizing with what or how he feels
  4. the fourth stage is a combination of the second and third stages, to rephrase content and reflect feelings

Sometimes you don’t want to hear what’s being said, choosing to be annoyed instead of understanding the other person’s view… this only damages a relationship. We’d make a better choice of moving forward, forgiving the offense and the offender, and resolving the problem.

Listening must come from the heart. If it is not sincere it will show regardless of what you say… nonverbal gestures will expose true feelings. When this happens, make it a point to remain focused on what the speaker is saying, actively participating in and practicing the stages of empathetic listening… the art of listening lies in understanding that to be an effective father, leader, spouse, or any other role we must not only care about what others have to say, but also how they feel… just remember your kids need your full attention, your patience, and a listening ear… so listen well when they speak. It will make you an even better father than you already are.

Improving family communication…

Communication has two parts…

  • listening and
  • expressing yourself

Both must occur for communication to be successful.

Listening…

When you listen well to family members, you encourage them to talk about what’s most important to them. It’s easy to get careless about really listening.

Listening is at least as important as talking. Everyone needs someone to listen to them-someone who supports them and allows them to openly express feelings. Sometimes a person can find a solution or discover the sources of stress just by talking. Some of us process our feelings or find ways to clarify and express our thoughts by simply talking to others. Find out which of your kids process in this way and you will have a key to unlocking their “code”.

Dad’s sometimes feel obligated to lecture, presents solutions, and give an analysis when listening. This is not good listening. A good listener should not feel obligated to advise, analyze, or have all the answers. Listening and responding with concern and understanding may be all the help needed.

Listening is difficult when strong emotions are present …

  1. Attentiveness…paying attention and putting aside what you are doing shows the speaker that you intend to listen. The harder part of attentiveness is putting aside your opinions and thoughts and conclusions until you’ve really heard what the speaker is trying to say.
  2. An attitude of openness and respect… you may not agree with what your family members saying, but being willing to hear and listen indicates respect and honor.
  3. Clarifying meaning… check out the interpretation of the message you are getting. Feedback helps to know whether you’ve understood what your family member means. Give feedback or check your interpretation of what is being said…
  4. A validating response… this lets the other person know you are ready for more listening. This involves body language, posture, facial expressions, and genuinely showing readiness for more communication

Dads tend to be natural lecturers… all of us need to work to be more intentional listeners. I’ve found many times that listening sets the stage for solving problems, great relationships, and genuine peace in our family. Practice just sitting and focusing on your child without any distractions, and it will transform your life, their life and your relationship together.

 

Thanks for your interest and I would love to help you and partner with you going forward.
Here is your Free copy and have attached the link to the E Book version.

http://shannonstoltz.com/hammond/EveryDayDad32511.pdf

Would this partnering/possibility be of some interest to you?

Best,
Scott Hammond
Every Day Dad of 9 kids

www.EveryDayDad.com
www.BecomeaBetterFather.com
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http://www.youtube.com/user/becomeabetterfather?feature=mhu

Copyright ©2011- Scott Hammond