Day 14: Giving Our Best

“I work very hard, and I play very hard.  I’m grateful for life.  And I live it – I believe life loves the lover of it.  I live it.”  – Maya Angelou

“He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.”  – Proverbs 10:4

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance and benefits of a good work ethic.  Explore how they can give their best at home, school, and in sports.

“Work ethic” is commonly used to refer to one’s commitment to working hard and, perhaps, equates the degree to which one works with the expected rewards their work entitles them to.  And yet, perhaps the “work ethic” God wants for us does not distill to just how many hours we can put in at the office, but more broadly applies to His desire for us to be at our very best in all facets and roles in life.  Reconsider what “work ethic” means, if it applies to being the best not only in our profession, but also as a father, neighbor, team member, etc.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to teach my daughter the value of working hard.  Help me to model a work ethic that includes time to spend in prayer, and quality time with my family.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Don’t get too wrapped up in trying to achieve a state of balance.  If you do, you’ll be disappointed with your results more often than not.  A wise executive taught me that “balance” is unrealistic.  She would say, “Forget about balance – it doesn’t happen.  Just be here when you need to be here and be with your family or in the community when you need to be there – but, wherever you are, be present there and attend to those around you.  The sooner you stop focusing on finding ‘balance’ and focus on what you need to prioritize, you’ll feel more balanced.”  In other words, manage your priorities…and make it count.

Of note…today is Veterans Day and it would be inappropriate to let it pass without giving thanks for all of those who have served and sacrificed so that we may be free.  If you are a veteran, I am grateful for you and humbled by your selflessness.  Thank you.

And, tomorrow we come to the midpoint of our 30-day walk through M46 Project.  We’ll spend a bit of time in Proverbs 3, talking about doing the right thing and avoiding bad situations.  See you then…

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 13: Choosing Friends Wisely

“When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:  to deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh forward things.”

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance of using wisdom in choosing friends.  Share with them how wisdom can help and protect them from relationships with the wrong people.

Thomas Aquinas said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  Can you think of a time when circumstances helped you to realize who your true friends really were (are)?

Friends are not defined or selected simply because we live, work, or study in proximity to each other.  Rather, we must teach our children that friends are determined according to common interests, shared values, and a willingness to hold each other up in moments of struggle or need.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help my child to use wisdom when choosing friends, and to avoid relationships with the wrong people.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Read Proverbs 18:24 and 1 Cor 15:33.  Who are your true friends?

Check back here for our next discussion on the importance of work ethic.

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 12: Honoring Him

“While generosity may be the antidote for the dizzying effects of wealth, your appetite for more may function as an antidote against God-honoring generosity.  Your appetite for more stuff, status, and security has the potential to quash your efforts to be generous.  And that’s a problem.”  – Andy Stanley

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  Proverbs 9:9-10

M46 Challenge:  Teach your child about what it means to honor God.  “The fear of the Lord” simply means to honor and respect God.  Explore different ways to honor God in your daily life.

As we parent our children and lead by example, where does God fit in?

Do we put him first?

Do we openly share our faith?

Do we give thanks?

And…this is a tough one…do we do and say on Monday through Saturday as we do and say in church or Sunday school…even when we get cut off in traffic, or someone gives us every opportunity to react poorly?

Do we commit random acts of kindness?

Do we regularly give of our time in service to others, including our children so that they may share in those experiences?

Do we seek opportunities to give of our resources and make a difference for others?

Do we check our own humility and adjust our own sense of importance, and our own need for “more”?

Do we demonstrate sacrifice?

Do we acknowledge when we have failed to act out of honor and respect to Him, inasmuch as we may quickly call our children out for the very same?  For me, none of this comes easily – and I don’t always do it well…and so, I ask for forgiveness and try yet again.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me teach my children to honor You.  Use my life as a living sacrifice to have a personal relationship with The Living God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Exodus 20 comes to mind.

Until next time, when we will get into the importance of choosing good friends…

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 11: Giving

“Happiness…consists in giving, and in serving others.”  – Henry Drummond

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in thine power of thine hand to do it.  Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”  Proverbs 3:27-28

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance of giving with the right heart.  It’s always best to do the right thing, right away.

If we view ourselves as the stewards of the gifts, talents, and riches with which we are blessed, then it becomes easier to contemplate giving of our blessings to the benefit and assistance of others.  Likewise, giving is a discipline that, perhaps, is more easily developed early in life than later.  What expectations are we setting for our children around the giving of their time and talents on a regular basis?  Do we set clear expectations around their disciplined saving and giving as they earn and accumulate resources – and explain the importance of those disciplines?  Do we help them create those healthy habits early?

In June 2013, I wrote here about “habits become strongholds…Serve…find today’s opportunity…imagine the possibilities.”

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me and my daughter to be like you when we give.  You always give your very best, and are always willing to do so.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Days 4, 6, 7, and 9 all apply.

Tomorrow:  A bit about Proverbs 9.

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 10: Listening

“My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding:  that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge.”  Proverbs 5:1-2

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the importance of listening to your instruction.  Being teachable will allow them to have more understanding, and the ability to discern good decisions from bad ones.

There is a difference between listening and following instructions.  Instructions can be carried out without clarity as to their basis and purpose, yet truly listening allows for processing and discernment.  As parents, it is our job to provide not only instruction, but to also seek opportunities to provide constructive discussion of purpose and critical thinking around decision-making.  In doing so, we equip our children to make better decisions when we are not around as they distinguish between good and bad, better and worse, okay and best, and right and wrong.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me to be a father that my daughter finds easy to listen to.  Thank you for giving her a heart that is teachable and humble to receive words of wisdom.  Help her heart to always remain soft and to always seek you.  In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Who most influenced your own ability to listen?  And how did they impact you?

We are headed for Proverbs 3 and a bit about giving.  See ya’ tomorrow…

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 9: Obedience

Obedience – noun – compliance and submission out of respect for authority

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:  for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about the benefits of obedience.  Let them know that God honors their obedience with a long life, full of God’s peace in their life.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for honoring your word to my daughter, that as she is obedient you add long life and peace to her life.  Give me wisdom to make it easy for her to honor and obey me so she can walk in your blessings.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Obedience to God demonstrates our love and commitment to Him.  And we know, through scripture, that obedience to God brings blessing and favor upon us and our children (Gen 22:18; Deut 5:29).

Tomorrow…a bit about listening from Proverbs 5.

Keep it Lit,

T.

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Day 8: Peer Pressure

‘But everyone’s doing it!…Everybody has one!’…Sound familiar?

“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” – Proverbs 1:10

M46 Challenge:  Talk to your children about peer pressure, and the importance of doing the right thing regardless of who is pressuring them otherwise.  Remind them that God is always with them, and it is always best to please God above anyone else.

We know our children will be tempted – likely early on, often, and mostly when we are not there to help guide them in their decisions.  But God is always there with them, and always an available source of strength.  It’s up to us to teach them that, when tempted or challenged to defend what they know to be right and true, He is their source of strength – and they absolutely may say “NO, thank you.”

Never assume that the neighbors on your street, at your child’s school, on your child’s team, or even in your church share the same values you teach and try to instill in your own child.  Sharing current geography does not assure that you share the final destination or follow the same True North.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for giving Mabry the strength and integrity to honor you and do the right thing in difficult situations.  I am thankful that she knows your voice and has a heart to follow you over the voice of a stranger.  In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Thoughts:  Spend some time contemplating how you teach your children the difference between “authority” and “truth.”  For example, those with the title “Faculty” may have certain authority and subject matter expertise, but may not be a source of God’s truth or His teaching – by word, or action.  In fact, they may be in a spiritual solstice, with their own axis pointed away from His light.

Looking ahead…tomorrow, we will talk a bit about obedience.  Take a look at Proverbs 3:1-2.  Blessings on you!

Keep it Lit,

T.

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