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Father vs. Dad (part 3)

Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem if we don’t intentionally model success. I wrote the following during the 2012 Summer Olympics:

By Way of Comparison

“Do you think someday I will be as fast as him?”

This is what my six-year-old son asked as we watched Usain Bolt win gold in the 200 meter race last night. Way to put me on the spot, kid.

That’s a tough question to answer when your son is grinning at you with that imaginative glow in his eyes. I didn’t want to belittle him or his six-year-old imagination that can still envision himself standing on top of an Olympic podium… I remember having that same dream when I saw Carl Lewis in 1988. On the other hand, I don’t want to fill his head with garbage. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much he trains or works or runs, Jack just doesn’t have the genes to be the fastest sprinter in the world. I guess that’s my fault. Well, half my fault half his mom’s fault.

“You can do anything you put your mind to” may be the most-often quoted lie. Maybe second to “No, that doesn’t make you look fat.”

I answered him by saying something like “That would really be something if you could run as fast as Usain Bolt because no one else in the history of the world has ever run as fast as he can” and we went back to watching the Olympics. See how I didn’t answer the question and avoided crushing his dreams? I’m pretty good at deflecting. At least I thought I was good at deflecting…he was obviously still thinking about it because a few minutes later he asked another question that was easier to answer but a lot more to think about.

“Dad, someday could you teach me to run as fast as you?”

In the span of 2 minutes he had gone from an unrealistic dream of being the fastest man ever to the all-to-obtainable goal of being as fast as a thirty-year-old, slightly overweight guy who likes to go for a three mile run a few times a week. Who we compare ourselves to makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

“Jack, I will run with you as much as you want, and I hope you’ll be faster than me someday.”

So back to the current topic…

  • Every dad knows it—our kids learn from us.
  • Every dad gets it—our kids want to be like us in many ways.
  • If we’re honest, every dad all also understands that sometimes our kids say “I’ll never be like that.”

I wonder how much it would change the way I interact with my kids if I realized that I am my kid’s measuring stick for life. How they compare to me will be their gauge of both success and failure. If I kept that thought forefront in my mind, I wonder if I would have a better chance of being their idea of success.


The Medium is the Message

dislikeSerious ideas cannot be distributed through non-serious means. A less-than-ideal delivery system weakens the message, confuses the audience, and implies a complete lack of research and solemnity in the ideas. Unfortunately this means that, for most of us, our largest public platform is mostly useless as a way to distribute serious information about which we feel strongly.

I’ll dispense with the philosophical groundwork and just come out and say it:

Facebook is rarely the proper channel for serious discussion.

There are many reasons that Facebook is not generally a good venue for serious discussion/promotion of a serious topic. None of these reasons mean that Facebook is bad, evil, or even a waste of time; it’s just not conducive to many challenging ideas because…

1. Facebook is primarily used for entertainment purposes.

While browsing through social media, most of us are simply not in the right frame of mind to think seriously and deeply about anything. We are looking for pictures of our friends, funny one-liners, catching up on weird news, and generally looking for what is interesting in the world today. Occasionally an important message will jump out of the crowd, but even when it does…

2. Facebook, by its very design, generates skimming rather than absorbing information.

On social media, information is given out in bite-sized increments. Larger messages are truncated so that you must actively and intentionally read the rest. We aren’t looking for stories, just headlines. If that headline can’t tell the whole story or grab our attention then it will probably get lost in the clutter. This desire by each of us to find new ways to cut through the static and make our stories seem even more interesting has produced an online environment demanding that…

3. Facebook is one big advertisement.

This is not just true of the actual advertisements. Almost every post is a plea to “Look at my picture”, “Like my joke!”, “Comment on my opinion!”, “Appreciate my situation!”, “Notice me!” We are all competing for attention among the triviality of social media. Every one of us thinks our posts, pictures, and commentary is worth being seen by others. Because we all think that our information is important enough to be seen…

4. On Facebook, all posts are equal.

Because Facebook was designed to create discussion and let people be heard, well-prepared statements, one-liners, rants, personal attacks, and wild defenses by offended parties are all given equal credence. Don’t post well-thought out and articulated ideas and opinions to Facebook without expecting a barrage of unprepared and hastily prepared responses. Your hours of research culminating with a heartfelt plea for a cause about which you care deeply can be dismissed with a “To each his own, I guess” or a “Maybe instead of calling other people out you should…” or a “Can’t we all just get along?” or even “I don’t see it that way at all, I think…”

Once again, the problem lies in the fact that most of us have a greater number of people who listen to us on Facebook than we do in the face to face world, so we use that platform to share what we feel passionately about. Go ahead! There’s nothing wrong with that! Just don’t be surprised when it isn’t met with the enthusiastic agreement of your friends.

Maybe all of this just proves that reach and influence are not synonymous.

Perception is Reality

When we rant on social media about how others have mistreated us, it sounds like this in our own heads:


It sounds like this to everyone else:


Any questions?

Grinch List #4 Annoying Christmas Songs

The last few Decembers I have made a Grinch List– things that I would steal from the holiday season if I could. This year I’m going to try to turn that list into something positive. Along with the reasons I am annoyed by each item, I will try to find a solution–an angle to adjust the way I feel about it in order to celebrate the season appropriately. I can’t promise I will change my mind about anything, but I can attempt to change my attitude.

I tried. I really did. I searched deep within my soul to find one positive thing I could say about any of these songs, and I failed.

So I thought this could be a bonding experience for all of us.

What’s your final four?
Did I leave out your least favorite Christmas song?
Did I forget an entire category of horrific holiday tunes?
Leave your comments below…even if you want to defend an indefensible song on the list.

Bad Christmas Songs Bracket

Lessons on Senior Trip, Day 1

I am spending the week with 10 high school seniors at the Wilds for senior trip. I am going to try to write a few things down that I learn each day and will post them here when I get time.

Here is what I learned on Monday

1. Good flavor does not always equal good food

Eating breakfast at Bojangles is awesome. Eating lunch at Cookout is awesome–for  about $5 I ate a hamburger, fries, a bacon wrap (basically a BLT in a tortilla, and everything tastes better in a tortilla) and a caramel cheesecake shake. Eating both in the same day is not so awesome. I’m pretty sure I could feel my blood using pick axes and dynamite in order to work its way through my arteries by dinner time.

2. Studying God’s Word is essential, not something on a to-do list.

Matt Herbster used this ridiculous analogy to illustrate how we often imagine our Bible reading: There is a giant Sunday School chart on the wall in Heaven with every Christian’s name. One very special angel’s job is to watch each of us and when we read our Bible each day, he puts a gold star beside our name. another angel has a Sharpie and if we don’t read our Bible that day, he draws a frownie face. At the end of the week they add it all up and if. Read our Bible enough days, they decide we can have a good week.

Obviously, that’s not the way it works. God wants us to have a relationship with Him and has given us the Bible so we can choose to learn more about Him and what He wants from us. Fading His message to us isn’t a good luck charm or a Christian chore, it is essential to spiritual growth.